Village Upset Over Holiday Spectacular, Featuring 32,000 Lights

LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBS 2/ WCBS 880) — The Richter family has been decorating their house to the hilt during the holidays for the past six years.

But this season, they say their joy was upset by a Grinch.

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Their own village told them for the first time — to tone down the decorations, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

You can’t miss the Richter’s Christmas spectacular – 32,000 lights, 180 plastic molds, among them tin soldiers, right up next to the curb.

The village said these holiday decorations violate local code.

Bah humbug said the Richters and many of their Lindenhurst neighbors. Scrooge they complain has swooped in with a summons, advising homeowner Mary Richter she’d better be in court Dec. 22 — or face arrest. 

“It says upon failure to appear, a warrant may be issued for your arrest,” Richter said describing the summons to WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall, “It’s extremely disturbing.”

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall Reports

“All I want to do is decorate for Christmas. Why I am getting this problem I don’t understand,” Richter said.

The problem, the village said, is public safety. It doesn’t want to be responsible for a holiday mishap. With no sidewalk, code enforcers worry someone could be struck by a car.

In addition, the outdoor outlets, wiring and nearly 100 extension cords weren’t properly inspected, said the village administrator, and may pose a fire hazard.

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Many neighbors called those fears bogus.

“I think it’s crazy, you know. These people just trying to put up their Christmas decorations and people are stepping on their toes,” Kieran Ames said.

“It’s a nice house. I don’t know why they’re trying to shut it down, but I really like it,” added Anthony Cordova.

“With the way the economy is and whatnot, I’m just trying to put a little bit of joy back into Christmas,” Richter said.

Richter and her son have nick-named their pride and joy ‘”the Christmas house.” Folks from miles around come by to gawk at the overwhelming display of Santas and soldiers, candy canes and Christmas lights.

They began this labor of love on Halloween and the display was ready the day after Thanksgiving, but it could all come down before Santa arrives — with a judge’s ruling.

“I really don’t see a big a problem with putting some Christmas decorations out for a couple of months out of the year. Ever since all this happened it’s put a major both damper on myself and my son. He’s devastated,” Richter said.

The Richters plan to plead not guilty at the hearing. Fines and penalties are at the discretion of a judge. Oh, and their electric bill? It doubles during the holiday.

With tears in her eyes, Richter told Hall she uses the display to raise money for charities — including a local family who lost their daughter to cancer.

“It’s hard. It’s hard. This has taken a lot out of me,” she said.

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“All I’m trying to do is do Christmas decorations, and I don’t see why somebody would turn around and go to the extreme to arrest me” Richter said.