Neighbors Oppose Massive Light Display

ksm-boyink-lights-2jpg-eaefdc184765101b_largeMichigan — Some Spring Lake Township residents are saying ho ho “no” to the Holiday Road Christmas light show.

The future of the show, whose organizer says is the second largest of its kind in the nation, will be the subject of a mediation meeting Tuesday between residents who support the holiday event, and those who feel the excessive traffic it attracts are an imposition on the neighborhood in the area of Heather Court.

Neighborhood resident Brad Boyink, who organized last year’s Nov. 26-Dec. 26 show, invested $35,000 of his own money to help decorate all 14 houses on the quiet cul-de-sac. More than 200,000 LED lights and holiday props were featured in the show, which Boyink synchronized to music.

The show ran seven evenings a week last year, and Boyink said it raised $33,500 in donations from attendees for the Spread the Music Foundation, Harbor Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity.

This year, however, some neighbors want the show moved elsewhere.

In a public letter, Heather Court resident Megan Martin said that nearly half the Heather Court/Hardwood Lane residents “no longer wish to support the event,” in addition to others from West Spring Lake and Van Wagoner roads.

“This is not an argument over the beauty or content of the…displays, or one’s right to decorate in accordance with their choice of expression, and is especially not an argument over the wonderful benefits this event bestows … but it is an argument over the appropriateness of the location … the invitation itself to thousands of people into our bottleneck subdivision for hours every night for four-five weeks,” the letter reads.

In 2006, Boyink decorated his own house on Heather Court. That first display was a huge success, attended by an estimated 60,000 people. Because traffic was so congested, he teamed up with the Rotary Club to present it on Harbor Island in 2007. It ran there for two years, but because of weather damage, vandalism, and the fact an entire backdrop had to be created for the display, Boyink said he was easily able to convince his entire street to be a part of last year’s show and return it to the neighborhood.

A traffic route was determined that was patrolled by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.

In January, after last year’s show, Spring Lake Township Supervisor John Nash held a meeting for neighborhood representatives, and he said no one voiced opposition.

It was in April, Nash said, that he started hearing concerns. Because of the opposition, a professional mediator was brought in for a meeting Tuesday of all interested parties.

To Boyink, the opposition has seemed to come out of the blue.

“We’ve had meetings to work together as a neighborhood on the logistics and ideas to make it run even more smoothly,” he said. “Some of the changes we’ve discussed included maybe not running it all seven nights a week, but maybe five. We’ve talked about closing the street maybe on Saturdays, our busiest night, making it a walking tour and running a shuttle service to avoid back-ups.

“Our committee has always been willing to work toward compromise. The majority of people on the street want the show, but it seems we can’t seem to work toward neutral ground, as whatever we propose, those opposed won’t budge.”

Nash said the township is working hard to seek a resolution. “I don’t want people who live next door to each other 52 weeks a year not speaking because of one month,” he said.

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