By Jessica Wallace
Nikolina Ruzic describes the garden gnome that once sat in the front yard of her downtown Kamloops home: blue coat, red hat and 'so happy.'
She adopted the statue earlier this year when it surprisingly showed up at her new rental property. As her first winter at the residence came to a close, a mound of snow once piled in her front yard slowly melted away to reveal the gnome.
She was excited to inherit the statue from former tenants and promptly placed him under a tree in the front yard.
"A new house, great roommates, little gnome," she says with a chuckle. "It was just exciting."
One day, on her way out the door to work, she looked to him and found that he wasn't under the tree smiling back at her.
"He was gnome-napped," she said.
Two weeks later, she was surprised while reading local news to find that a Brocklehurst church had been pranked and a gnome with the same blue jacket was part of it.
Sixty-eight gnomes appeared on the grass near the entrance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Friday morning.
Church member and groundskeeper Brian Arnold said the gnomes randomly appeared that morning, lined-up in perfect order, the majority in good condition.
He has been trying to reunite the various garden statues with their rightful owners ever since - sharing the story with local media and storing them safely in a shed on church property.
Ruzic visited the church yesterday afternoon with hopes of being reunited with her lost statue.
A gnome with a blue jacket sat in front of the church's shed, ready to be claimed by its owner.
But this gnome was not her gnome. This gnome had a brown hat.
"It was so exciting," she said. "Turns out I'm an idiot."
She was disappointed when she realized that she had made the trip for nothing.
"Unless he's in Fiji right now, and I'm getting a postcard - I want him back," she said.
For Arnold, the situation was a no-brainer.
He let her keep the gnome anyway.
"Most of them are still here, I've gotten rid of about eight of them," he said.
He said the church doesn't have the room to store the lawn ornaments and that he had planned on donating the unclaimed ones to a thrift store next week.
Ruzic was thrilled for the new gnome, but agreed to return it if the real owner came forward.
She said she would put it under the same tree despite the recent theft.
"How many times can you be wrong before someone just leaves your gnome alone?" she joked.
While Ruzic admits Henry, her new garden friend, won't replace the old one, she's happy to see a smiling face from under the tree again.
And her old gnome won't soon be forgotten, as she plans on painting Henry's hat—red.
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