VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Walkers say it was a reminder of peacefulness, a sign that nature was near.
But an iconic Virginia Beach sculpture is no longer standing, reduced to charred wood and twisted metal.
“The team here at Brock Environmental Center is heartbroken,” said manager Chris Gorri.
Nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the Lynnhaven Inlet used to sit a gateway to nature, the marshes and the untouched environment.
“It’s more than just an arch; it was something that meant something to the people and to welcome them,” said Gorri.
The arch was erected five years ago by a company in Charlottesville, made of driftwood from the James River. It was a sign you had escaped from the hum of the city.
“It was a piece of art at Brock that people came to love and take pictures behind all year round,” said Gorri.
Those pictures are now just memories, as the arch was found engulfed in flames around 3:30 a.m. Friday. The Virginia Beach Fire Department responded to the scene at Pleasure Point Park, where they quickly contained the fire. The cause is still under investigation.
“This little neck of the woods that I’m fortunate enough to live in has been touched by this senseless violence,” said one walker who passes by the arch daily.
Many walkers were in shock to see the rubble on Friday.
“It is just so heartbreaking. It makes me angry, too,” said a walker.
Gorri says they plan to rebuild something meaningful in the sculptures place after the shock of the loss wears off. They plan to involve the community.