What was meant to inspire wonderment and creativity inspired theft instead.
Someone ripped out one of two elf doors in Schiller Park in German Village.
Kenny Cramer, the designer and installer of one of the doors, said he was stunned someone snatched the piece, not so much for the sentimental value, but because it was anchored in so tightly.
Cramer, who's a graphic designer with Columbus Recreation and Parks, said the wooden door was affixed to an aluminum rod planted about three feet into the earth.
"Obviously I thought, 'That's a shame,'" Cramer said.
"You think more of the kids who were having so much fun with it.
"At the same time, at least it was better than finding pieces of the door," Cramer said.
"I hope whoever has it at least enjoys it."
Cramer, undeterred, recreated the piece and replaced it last week.
He said he spent about 12 hours designing the original piece, featuring the face of a mystical elfin king, and two hours installing it. He said he spent less time on the second door.
In June, the two doors were installed in Schiller Park - and one each in Whetstone and Bicentennial parks - as part of the Tiny Doors program sponsored by The Keebler Co., based in Battle Creek, Mich.
The doors, placed at a large natural crook at the bottom of trees, are fully functional. They will be in place until Sept. 30.
Cramer said children wrote letters seeking information about the enchanted doorway and magical creatures.
Keebler is planning on collecting the notes and creating an art project with them, he said.
Terri Leist, assistant director of Columbus Recreation and Parks, said no other doors have been damaged and the department plans to install another one at Goodale Park.
Katharine Moore, chairwoman of Friends of Schiller Park, said it's a shame thieves would target an installment that had gathered so much innocent attention and has an insignificant street value.
She said she also felt bad for Cramer who spent time designing the door.
"I felt so sad for him and for everybody who had gotten such a thrill for search and discovery for the doors," Moore said.
Cramer's piece was located closer to Reinhard Avenue near South Third Street.
The other Tiny Door piece is near the Umbrella Girl fountain.
"I think we've been very fortunate, knock on wood, with the lack of vandalism in Schiller Park," Moore said.
"Because we have a nice history, we think it's worth another try."