CLAREMONT (California)Â – Richard Viselli, operator of the city’s “Christmas House,” offered at a neighborhood meeting Thursday night to tone down the elaborate Christmas light display he is planning to set up at his home next season.The meeting, held between Viselli and about 20 concerned neighbors at the Alexander Hughes Community Center, was held to address concerns that some neighbors had about last year’s display.
Viselli offered to limit the operating days and hours of the show and eliminate the musical score.
“I’m willing to back off and make some changes, but it’s a give and take,” Viselli said at the conclusion of the one-hour, 45-minute meeting. “They have to give me a little.”
The neighborhood drive against Viselli was led by the Swartz family, who live across the street from Viselli. After the meeting Robert Swartz said the plans outlined by Viselli were a “move in the right direction.”
Last year, Viselli’s Christmas display ran from 6 to 10 p.m. for 29 days in December. The show featured 58,000 blinking lights and a synchronized, radio-transmitted musical score, producing an impressive light show that attracted thousands of nightly visitors at its peak.
The visitors, some neighbors said, disrupted normal traffic in the neighborhood, produced an unbearable amount of noise and left trash behind on the street.
The offer by Viselli to eliminate the musical score that was broadcast last year through his FM transmitter was the element that appeared to most satisfy his neighbors.
Instead of the broadcast, Viselli will attempt to install a speaker system that projects the sound toward his own house and away from his neighbors, eliminating much of the neighborhood concern about noise.
Verbal sparring during the meeting Thursday night between Viselli and some of the neighbors was at times loud and pointed – several in attendance called Viselli “arrogant” – and arguments had to be diffused several times by City Manager Jeff Parker.
The meeting was held at the encouragement of the City Council, which declined last month to enact regulations to limit Viselli, insisting it was a neighborhood issue.
Also mentioned during the meeting was the possibility of the city allowing Viselli to use a public building for his Christmas light shows beginning in 2008.
Viselli, 55, spent all last year planning the elaborate light display in the 1500 block of Whittier Avenue.
After the Christmas season ended, a group of 11 neighborhood households petitioned the city to pass laws to prohibit similar displays in the future.