OLD BRIDGE, N.J. – A New Jersey family is in a holiday battle with officials over an extravagant Christmas show…
OLD BRIDGE, N.J. – A New Jersey family is in a holiday battle with officials over an extravagant Christmas show that attracts hundreds of tourists. Every December for the past 15 years, the Apruzzians have decorated their house with tens of thousands of dazzling lights.
It’s a tradition like nobody else for Tom Apruzzi. Christmas is his time to shine. “I just love Christmas,” told Apruzzi CBS News correspondent Don Dahler.
But this year, love is not shared with any members of their own society who have taken their fight against the mayor. Some neighbors argue for the spectacle creating chaos.
“We must make it safe. I have no choice,” said Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry.
Henry said that Apruzzo’s neighbors have security problems, such as heavy foot traffic, minimal street parking and accessibility for the first respondents.
“They actually had the street all blocked,” said a visitor.
Apruzzi told him that he paid nearly $ 1
50,000 to turn on these lights for a decade. But the price of spreading joy is skyrocketing, and homeowners face fines. The lights do not just pick up the electricity bill. City officials said that Apruzzis had to pay a $ 3,000 fine every night and he set up a light show for visitors.
“They want me to pay for the police, they also want me to pay for a shuttle from a private parking lot and bus people because they want me to pay for … and I do not,” said Apruzzi. He said some of his neighbors like it, some do not.
“I think it’s amazing, what he’s doing for society and everything. It’s fine,” said neighbor TJ Seals.
The attraction gained national attention in an episode of “The Great Christmas Light Fight” where families cover their homes to compete for money.
Apruzzis said it was never about fame or money. The family brings visitors’ donations to fundraiser for a charity that holds seriously injured veterans.
“We started taking donations probably about six years ago, so we probably have probably had over 30,000 dollars,” said Apruzzi.
But if Apruzzis refuses to pay the fine, taxpayers – their own neighbors – may have to pay the bill, which might force Old Bridge to pull the plug on the show.
“Do you think they will be able to shut you down?” Dahler asked Apruzzi.
“If they close me, they have to talk to my lawyer,” he replied. “This is my first change right.”
“Free speech and free religion,” said Apruzzi.
Appruzzis plans to pay for the first pair of candles showing off their pocket. A GoFundMe page was launched to help pay the fine. Although the family does not reach its $ 75,000 fundraising goal, Appruzzi said the show will still continue – kick out this Saturday.