Nuisance or nice? Florida family's holiday lights frazzle neighbors

Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:08pm EST
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By Barbara Liston

PLANTATION, Fla. (Reuters) - When it comes to holiday decorations, Kathy and Mark Hyatt go to extremes.

In December, they transform their home in Plantation, Florida, into a 200,000-light spectacle, with Santas, reindeer and candy canes blanketing the lawn, snowflakes and angels twinkling in the sky, and a sign over the garage beckoning visitors to "Believe in the Magic of Christmas."

The reaction of some neighbors and their city? Bah humbug!

"This is a war zone, all because of the ego of that guy," said neighbor Rafael Imbert, 65, who erects a plastic construction fence to keep the thousands of sightseers lured by the lights off his lawn.

Disputes over holiday displays go hand in hand with the annual tradition. One person's festive spirit can bring out the Grinch in others, leading to fines, strained relationships and - in rarer cases - lawsuits claiming that decorations have gone too far.

The Hyatts are the target of such a lawsuit: The city of Plantation, about 30 miles north of Miami, is seeking to shut down their display that it deems a public nuisance. The couple is not backing down.

"They believe it engenders goodwill and a bond between the community," said their Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer, James Helf.

In Ohio, a man has disregarded his critics by again erecting a nativity scene on his lawn portraying Jesus, Mary and Joseph as zombies.   Continued...

People view Kathy and Mark Hyatt’s house decorated with holiday lights in Plantation, Florida, November 30, 2015.  REUTERS/Barbara Liston