December 2016 Church & State - December 2015

Fla. Couple Wins Legal Battle Over Holiday Display

  AU admin

A Florida family has won a legal battle against the city of Plantation, Fla., over an elaborate Christmas display that officials said snarled traffic and created a neighborhood nuisance.

A Broward County judge ruled Oct. 27 that Mark and Kathy Hyatt can set up their large display once again this holiday season. The couple argued in part that they have a religious right to celebrate Christmas through a big display of lights and decorations.

City officials called the holiday display, which contains 200,000 lights and a miniature Ferris wheel, a “disturbance” and noted that neighbors have complained about traffic, noise and litter brought into the neighborhood by people coming to see the decorations.  

The Hyatts have been slapped with fines totaling more than $7,000 for code violations from the city, which deemed their excessive decorations “dangerous.” But the Hyatt family’s attorney, James Helf, disputed that claim and pointed out that nobody has been hurt while viewing the display of lights.

Mark Hyatt told the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel that the ruling “almost brought me to my knees.”

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