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Downtown DeLand Wings clipped by graffiti

Reclaiming her work — DeLand artist Erica Group paints over a graffiti tag left by a vandal on the DeLand Wings, located in the alley directly east of the Conrad Realty building that houses The Beacon, between West New York and West Georgia avenues.

Reclaiming her work — DeLand artist Erica Group paints over a graffiti tag left by a vandal on the DeLand Wings, located in the alley directly east of the Conrad Realty building that houses The Beacon, between West New York and West Georgia avenues. 

BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO

More vandalism — These three markings were recently strewn onto the building housing Sweet Lics Frozen Treats & More, at the corner of North Woodland Boulevard and West Church Street. The leftmost example includes an internet address (partially obscured by The Beacon) directing people to a hacking group, and makes reference to the Metasploit Project, which catalogs computer malware and provides security-testing tools used by researchers but sometimes abused by malicious hackers.

More vandalism — These three markings were recently strewn onto the building housing Sweet Lics Frozen Treats & More, at the corner of North Woodland Boulevard and West Church Street. The leftmost example includes an internet address (partially obscured by The Beacon) directing people to a hacking group, and makes reference to the Metasploit Project, which catalogs computer malware and provides security-testing tools used by researchers but sometimes abused by malicious hackers.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

One of Downtown DeLand’s most widely-known art pieces was one of many locations vandalized by graffiti, likely sometime late Jan. 8 or early Jan. 9.

The DeLand Wings mural, painted on the eastern side of the Conrad building that houses The Beacon’s offices, was tagged with some sort of graffiti symbol in red paint, in the space between the mural’s two wings.

The feathery Wings mural, painted in 2014 by DeLand artist Erica Group, has become a widely-known attraction, sometimes drawing visitors from out of town and even out of the country.

The mural fronts the alleyway — sometimes called Pill Alley — between the Conrad Realty complex and a row of shops that front Woodland Boulevard, including Dressed Boutique, Marketplace at Rivertown and SoNY Market, where Group has a booth selling her works. The alley stretches between West New York and West Georgia avenues.

To say the mural is a popular photo-taking spot would be an understatement.

Its popularity spread like wildfire, with more than 4,100 photos posted under the hashtag #DeLandWings on the photo-sharing app Instagram and countless more on other social-media platforms.

Out-of-town tourists often stop into Downtown DeLand businesses, including The Beacon, to inquire where they can find the Wings.

Painted on a vintage carriage-style metal door on the 1920s-era Conrad building, the outstretched wings are the perfect place for anyone to find his or her inner angel in their feathery white embrace.

“Barb sent me a picture this morning and said ‘Well, it happened,’” Group said.

She groaned at hearing the news.

Fortunately, the graffiti was painted in a blank space between the wings, largely avoiding any damage to the feathers themselves.

The same graffiti symbol that defaced the wings appeared in at least a half-dozen other locations Downtown, including on the back of other businesses in Pill Alley, on the building housing Sweet Lics Frozen Treats & More at 224 N. Woodland Blvd., and on the building at 118 W. New York Ave.

After a DeLand Police officer examined the graffiti and took photos for evidence, Group painted over the unwanted marking Tuesday afternoon.

Several businesses have security cameras in the alley, and neighbors were hopeful that an image of the paintbrush-wielding pest could be found and shared with law enforcement.

Chris Graham, community information specialist for the City of DeLand, asked for the public’s help in locating the perpetrator.

“We want to send a strong message that this won’t be tolerated,” Graham said.

Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to contact the DeLand Police Department at 386-626-7400. People can also anonymously submit a tip on the DeLand PD website by visiting www.delandpd.com and clicking “Submit a tip!” in the upper-right corner.

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