Old Bridge, NJ - A New Jersey town is saying that a homeowner’s spectacular Christmas display is causing problems with traffic and the family must pay $2,000 a day for the added police security or the massive light show will be shut down.
Homeowner Tom Apruzzi has put on the light show for the last 15 years, according to WTVD.
The family estimates they have invested $100,000 into the show over the years.
It includes 70,000 lights that are synchronized to music and goes on every 30 minutes every day from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., according to WTVD. The display can draw as many as 1,000 people per day, according to NJ.com.
Last year, visitors that left donations for the light show and the money went to support the non-profit Homes for Our Troops, which rebuilds homes for severely injured veterans.
However, two officials said the display that is located at 18 Central Avenue has attracted a lot of visitors and the town is receiving a lot of complaints about traffic congestion.
The increased crowds and parked cars has led to unsafe conditions, according to town officials.
The town says that they had to have additional police in the area.
Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry said that they have asked Tom and Kris Apruzzi to pay $2,000 per night for the police security. That fee would cover the costs of paying police overtime for the evening as well as having moveable light posts to light the streets, according to NJ.com.
Henry said that auxiliary police officers did security in the past for free but they were not trained in crowd control.
Township Administrator Himanshu Shah said that visitors park on both sides of the 24-foot wide road and people walk in the middle of the street and that created unsafe conditions.
Apruzzi said the proposed charges were “bureaucratic baloney.” He has started an online fundraiser to pay for the $75,000 in costs. The light display will go on starting December 1, according to NJ.com.
“We're not gonna listen to what the police have to say," Tom Apruzzi said, according to NJ.com. "It is my First Amendment rights, it has to do with my religion." Apruzzi said he is Catholic.
Henry said they weren’t trying to shut down the light display but just make Apruzzi responsible for crowd safety.
The mayor compared letting people assemble at the light show without security to letting people swim in an ocean with sharks, according to NJ.com.
One option the town is considering is having visitors park off site and have a shuttle take them to the light display.
It's unclear who would pay for that plan.