What to Know
- A New Jersey man is going head-to-head with town officials over his massive Christmas light display
- Old Bridge officials have told the man and his wife that they will have to pay $2,000 a night for security at their light show
- The town says it will shut the display down if the fees aren't paid
A New Jersey man is going head-to-head with town officials over his massive Christmas light display.
Old Bridge officials have told Tom Apruzzi and his wife, Kris, that they will have to pay $2,000 a night for security at their light show or the town will shut it down.
The Apruzzis have been putting on the display at their home for 15 years, which includes more than 70,000 lights synchronized to music.
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"They were asking us to pay almost $2,000 a night for the police, and it was gonna cost us another $750 to shuttle-bus people into the display," Tom Apruzzi told NBC 4 New York.
The Apruzzis will end up shouldering costs of around $50,000 per season if they're forced to pay that amount, Tom Apruzzi said.
Town officials, however, say the increasing crowds and parked cars have led to unsafe conditions in the area.
Mayor Owen Henry on Wednesday said the lights have raised safety issues that unpaid auxiliary police and special officers have had to deal with.
"... [T]hey're not trained in crowd control, and they were being abused, because they were telling people what to do, and [people] didn't think they had to listen to [them]," he said.
He also wants to make sure that residents and emergency vehicles still have access to the street.
Two local council members, however, say the town shouldn't impose the fees.
"This is a resolvable issue... this is a Christmas display, for goodness sake," Councilman Mark Razzoli said.
Tom Apruzzi calls the fees "bureaucratic baloney" and has started an online fundraiser to pay them. But he says the show will go on starting Saturday, whether or not the fundraiser meets its goal.
He claims it a First Amendment issue.
"I do it out of the goodness of my heart," he said. "Because I love Christmas, and I love seeing people with happy faces."