PLANTATION (CBSMiami) – It’s a holiday landmark in South Florida, and famous around the world. With more than 180 thousand lights, the Hyatt home Christmas display is a literal beacon of Holiday cheer. However, the family says it’s under attack by the Grinch, in the form of the City of Plantation.
The city is not complaining about the massive light display, which draws thousands of people to the family’s Plantation Acres home every year. They’re upset with a banner, 2 feet by 8 feet, displayed on the property.
The banner directs visitors to the family’s website, www.hyattextremechristmas.com, the has the viewing hours, directions, and facts about the display. It also has a link to Kathy Hyatt’s website, and apparently that has Plantation officials up in arms.
Kathy Hyatt is a real estate agent, the the city claims that link makes the banner on the Hyatt property an advertisement, which violates city code. The city also claims the banner, located on the family’s one-acre property, is too big, another city code violation.
That banner has to go, said city officials, or an initial $25 fine can be doubled, every day, until the banner comes down.
Mark Hyatt’s message? Bring it on. He’s threatening to go to court if need be to keep his sign, which he said in an e-mail to CBS4 is there to “enhance the Christmas experience for all who visit our display…”
Full disclosure time: CBS4’s Holiday Homes tour has included the Hyatt home for years, although it’s not on the 2011 schedule. The house is so impressive it’s been featured in national magazines and TV shows, and is scheduled for a CNN feature later this week.
Plantation Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that she has not been to see the display. She said neighbors have complained about the banner, and claims the Hyatts have not worked with the city.
They deny that, and claim the city’s stance violates their freedom of speech.
“No one has the right to dictate how we celebrate our holidays,” the Hyatts said in their e-mail.
For now, the lights remain on, and the banners still hang. In addition to holiday cheer, the display could bring an unwelcome Christmas gift: fines bigger than the Hyatts’ $2000 a month electric bill, and lawyers to sort out the brightly-lighted dispute.