As Petaluma volunteers began gathering early Tuesday to clean up a mess of downed trees and broken pots left by vandals, a city crew arrived.
"We don't have to lift a finger. The city has kindly stepped in and are going to take care of it right now," said Alan Allen, a Petaluma resident who organized the volunteer effort.
"All of our squawking and pulling together volunteers got the attention of the city," said Virginia May, director of the Petaluma Arts Center. "Which is great."
The vandal or vandals struck early Saturday, knocking down nine young trees in large pots.
The Lakeville Street trees had been lined up in front of the Petaluma Arts Center and the Petaluma Visitor's Center.
Since then, the toppled trees had remained down, encroaching on the street, with the pots on their sides on the sidewalk, many of them cracked.
Allen heard about the vandalism and wanted to help. He and his son Jacob, 13, went by Monday to see what they could do.
With the help of another man they'd tried to right the pots but they were too heavy.
So Allen lined up a loaner forklift and put out the word for volunteers to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday to clean up the mess.
A local restaurant delivered juice, milk and water for the effort.
Allen was expecting about 12 people to join him but he cancelled after getting word from the city's public works department that a city crew were going to take care of it.
He was happy to have the professionals take over but had been looking forward to the community effort.
"I was trying to rally the troops and make a difference," said Allen, who runs Community Bikes, a nonprofit that takes donated bikes, fixes them up and gives them away.
The city was expected to try and have the pots glued back together. Crews also planned to cut holes in the concrete of the sidewalk and new trees would be planted in the ground, said Allen.
That gave the vandalism a silver lining, he said.
The trees didn't seem to be doing well in the pots, so planting them into the ground seemed a better plan.
"It helped us as a city make a better decision," he said.
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