A holiday display illuminating a Florida house with 240,000 lights and hundreds of decorations, is what the homeowners call their annual Christmas gift to the community.
But some residents and local officials say the massive lights extravaganza is an eyesore and a safety hazard that has to go.
City elders in Plantation, Florida have filed a lawsuit, calling on the Hyatt family to disassemble the high-wattage display of automated reindeers, lights-festooned palm trees and hundreds of other decorations.
For the past two decades, the display has been an annual Christmas ritual attracting hundreds of visitors — each year growing bigger and gawdier.
The decorations, which stay up for about a month, cover every foot of the Hyatt family dwelling and most of their quarter-acre-sized yard — to the delight of at least some of their neighbors.
“It’s beautiful, and it’s an enjoyable way to celebrate the holidays,” said Sandra Marimoto, 38, as she examined the massive lights display with her family one recent evening.
But authorities say the traffic from people trying to see the popular display chokes local roads.
They also complain that they have had to pay thousands of dollars in police overtime over the years to manage the traffic, and that the costs to the city are mounting.
The city last year filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit seeking to force an end to the ritual, and imposing a fine on the family.
“The Hyatts face a daily fine of US$250 (RM1,054), a lawsuit, and closed roads leading to their display,” the Hyatt family wrote on an online petition seeking support and donations for the annual event which went ahead this year despite the suit.
“Pledge your support TODAY to save our display and continue to allow us to share the Christmas spirit with our community.”
The battle with authorities has gone on for years, with the Hyatts insisting that they have the right to do as they choose on their on property.
The legal battle now is coming to a head, with a court hearing in the case scheduled for this month, according to news reports.
The Hyatt family says they can’t understand why the local government would want to put a damper on an event that brings joy to so many local residents.
“These same visitors to our display they come here each year, and we’ve seen children grow and bring their children here,” said Kathy Hyatt, who erects the mammoth display each year with her husband Mark, two grown sons and an army of helpers.
“It’s become a tradition here in South Florida,” she told AFP.
The Hyatt family has linked the event to annual fundraisers for local police and firefighters and other local charitable efforts.
They also have started an online fundraiser, #HelpHyattHoliday, to help with defray their legal costs.