(TeaParty.org) – A New Jersey man who has been putting up an epic light display outside his home for 15 years is facing hefty fines from the city or face being shut down.
Tom Apruzzi’s display, which featured 70,000 lights this year, attracts up to 1,000 people a night who come to witness his incredible arrangements.
Viewers are also encouraged to make donations, which in the past have raised tens of thousands of dollars for causes such as childhood cancer and veterans.
Such a popular display does not come without problems, however, and the Apruzzi home has been subject to vandalism.
Now, however, they face a foe far more cynical than some foolish kids; they’re facing off with the city government, who wants to fine them thousands–a day.
CBS News reports that city officials are asking for $3,000 every day Apruzzi’s lights are lit up to facilitate the high volume of visitors.
“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,” Apruzzi explained.
Mayor Own Henry of Old Bridge stands firmly behind the proposed fine, claiming to have received complains from neighbors who are irritated with the large crowds in their otherwise quiet neighborhood.
There are also concerns about police and first-responder access, as firetrucks, ambulances, or police cars could face difficulties accessing the street in the case of an emergency with so many cars and people clogged in such a small place.
In the past, the house has attracted smaller crowds that certainly wouldn’t pose a challenge for auxiliary police officers, but crowd size has greatly increased so that the street is so flooded with cars many visitors have to walk down the middle of the road to view the house.
If Apuzzi neglects to pay the fine, city officials say, they will be forced to shut down his display, which put an end to the money he is raising for charity.
Appropriately, Apruzzi has instead begun fundraising for the fines themselves, in a campaign called “Save the Lights” which on Monday morning had already raised over $4,600 on GoFundMe.
Strangely enough, the campaign page explains, the Apruzzi family and residents met with the City Council weeks before this year’s light display kicked off, and “they received a unanimous vote to proceed, WITHOUT any stipulations.”
It’s hard to ignore the fact that a light display raising tens of thousands for worthy charitable causes would eventually inspire the city government to demand money.
Regardless, Apruzzi is determined to carry on his tradition, fines or no.
“We are not shutting down the Christmas lights show,” he says. “Period.”