Famous Florida Christmas Light Display Faces More Opposition
The Plantation, Florida light display known as Hyatt Extreme Christmas just cannot stay out of the news or away from controversy. Now the city is limiting parking near the residence in an attempt to control traffic congestion and disruption to neighbors during the days of the display. The display has been in the news a great deal for creating a “Hatfields & McCoys” kind of feud with neighbors.
Neighbors have complained to the city for years that noise and parking problems come from Mark and Kathy Hyatt’s “Hyatt Extreme Christmas” home display at 11201 NW 14th St. It features almost 200,000 lights, a 20-foot Ferris wheel that gives stuffed animals a ride, a 30-foot Christmas tree and life-size gingerbread men.
Now, the city may have found a way to rein in the attraction’s big turnout by planning to clamp down on illegal parking.
The city has written Mark Hyatt a letter dated July 3 saying that he will no longer be allowed to permit guests to park on the public street adjacent to his house — the east side of Old Hiatus Road, or on the vacant lot across the street because it is not zoned as a parking lot.
That means all guests would have to park on the Hyatt property, and that is an all-but-impossible parking scenario given the Hyatts’ entire yard gets taken up by the display.
No-parking signs on Old Hiatus Road were installed this past week. Visitors could park on the west side of Old Hiatus Road, but if their car blocks traffic in any way, they’ll be ticketed, too, city officials said. Parking isn’t allowed on swales or in neighbors’ driveways.
Mark Hyatt was also told he won’t be allowed to use “large moving sky” spotlights, intended to attract passer-bys’ attention, because “the deployment of such lights is clearly beyond any acceptable seasonal norm for a residential neighborhood,” wrote City Attorney Donald Lunny Jr.
Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic insists the city’s intent is not to shut down the display, rather it’s to “make sure everyone is safe in that area and we can all live in a harmonious way and enjoy the holidays.”
But Mark Hyatt said this is the city’s way of trying to quash his event. He said the spotlight “is my family’s way of waving at a huge supporter of this display for many years — my mother. She passed a few years back, and this is our way of including her.”
Said Bendekovic: “We can’t violate city codes in order to honor our loved ones.”
So where should people park?
“The Hyatts created the problem, the city didn’t,” the mayor said.
Hyatt said Friday he hasn’t decided what to do about his new parking problem but vowed to continue the display.
“Christmas comes every year and will come this year on schedule,” he said. “We will not allow the city to upset the Christmas tradition for many families and friends in our city. The mayor and the city needs to focus on the shortfall of our budget and stop wasting taxpayer money on Hyatt Extreme Christmas.”
His neighbors aren’t declaring any type of victory yet.
“My concern is the Hyatts would have to tell everyone who is coming they can’t park, and I don’t know how they are going to do that,” Adam Fractenberg said. “And then everyone just drives through the neighborhood and that doesn’t necessarily alleviate the traffic.”
He said he’s saddened at the bad blood on his street. When the Hyatts first moved in, the families carpooled to Central Park Elementary School.
Now, each side complains about the other. The mayor had even previously likened the street to the “Hatfields and the McCoys out there.”
“I’m frustrated that our neighbors don’t seem to understand what they do impacts others,” Fractenberg said. “Many enjoy the display and I fully understand that, but it also represents significant level of challenges for those who live near him over those two months. I wish he’d see that and work toward a solution.”