You Light, I’ll Sue

Another light fight has broken out in Cleveland. This one involves neighbors, donations and fireworks. Yes, fireworks. Now the whole thing is headed to court — just another in a list of Christmas light court cases we’re seeing in 2013.

It seems the epic display of Dan Hoag and family is quite the spectacle. More than 1000 people show up every Thanksgiving evening at 6pm and the kids line up to visit with Santa. The event was once covered on the Today Show. Some reports say the entire neighborhood and multiple families participate by lighting houses, yards and walkways. It runs every year from Thanksgiving to Christmas and is so big that it includes fireworks launched overhead right there from Hoag’s yard.

“They set off this massive fireworks display that lasts literally for 10 minutes and it’s like a fourth of July fireworks display,” said nearby resident Rachel Schoonmaker. “They are setting them off in their backyard. They have like a massive stand and they have them up on there and they send them up from there.”

Neighbor Kevin Roberts has put up with it for seven years. He reached his breaking point, it appears, when his Thanksgiving dinner was ruined and a family member was harassed just for leaving the house. Roberts is suing for $3000 claiming damage to his yard, roof and vehicle.

The fireworks appear to be a big part of the case. Apparently it is illegal to shoot off fireworks there. Someone complained about the event a few years back and police shut it down before it started. This year Hoag worked with local police, who actually sent two officers to work the event and things went well. Hoag also claims to have received approval from the mayor to light off the fireworks.

“I think it’s a shame,” said Hoag, who started the street-long decorating two decades ago with neighbor Dan Paliwoda. “We’re just trying to do something nice for families and kids.”

The case gets its first hearing at the end of January.

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