Family To Be Fined Thousands For Mega Christmas Light Display
A family's annual Christmas festivities have been halted prematurely as they enter a battle with officials.
The Apurzzi family in the US state of New Jersey puts on an extravagant Christmas light display at their home and they have done so every December for the last 15 years.
The display attracts thousands of visitors who travel from across the state to stare at the home as the lights dazzle and dance across the roof and into the garden.
While the Christmas spirit is shared far and wide with visitors, local residents have claimed the spectacle causes chaos in the community. They want the light display to be made safe, or stopped altogether, and they have taken their fight to their local major.
"We have to make it safe. I don't have a choice," Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry told CBS News.
Henry said locals are concerned about the heavy foot traffic, minimal street parking and the lack of accessibility for emergency services. Some are also concerned they won't be able to access their own properties after certain time because the Apurzzi's entire street is often closed off.
Apruzzi told CBS NEWS he has spent nearly US$150,000 (AU$205,000) over the last 15 years to put on the display for his community.
"I just love Christmas," Apruzzi told CBS News.
But his joy has been overshadowed by the fines the Apruzzi's now face for their lights. They will be subject to a US$3000 (AU$4100) for each night they turn on their display.
"They want me to pay for the police, they also want me to pay for shuttle service from a private parking lot and bus people in that they want me to pay for… and I'm not doing it," Apruzzi said.
While the City Council might be forced to shut down the light display if Apruzzi refuses to pay the fines, he said turning off the lights is a violation of his constitutional rights.
"If they shut me down, they're going to have to talk to my attorney. This is my First Amendment right ... Free speech and free religion," Apruzzi said.
Featured Image: CBS News.
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