PLANTATION (CNN) – To the many who admired him, Mark Hyatt was a real-life Clark Griswold when it came to Christmas decor. But to his neighbors and the city of Plantation, he was more of a pesky Grinch.
Hyatt was many things to many people: city councilman, (ex) husband, a thorn in Plantation’s side. But he’s most famous, or infamous, for the annual display of Christmas excess that bore his name.
He died this week at the age of 56.
He and his ex-wife, Kathy, hosted the Hyatt Family Christmas, a spectacular display of holiday extravagance for years. What began in 2006 as a modest outdoor light show ballooned into a Christmas destination that glowed with more than 200,000 lights and featured a makeshift ferris wheel and 30-foot-tall tree.
“It’s tradition,” he told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 2017. “It feels like home.”
Fans flocked to the Hyatts’ holiday home every year, winding through their yard to pick out how many Santa statues they could spot and watch the projector that played Christmas movies on a loop.
But it was a nightmare for their neighbors. Spectators clogged their tiny cul-de-sac, threw trash in the yards of their upscale neighborhood and knocked on their doors to use the bathroom. Not to mention, the Hyatts’ home was the brightest on the block.
At the behest of the Hyatts’ neighborhood, the city sued the couple in 2016 to end the display on the grounds that it was a “public nuisance” and could cause traffic accidents. But the Hyatts won the case and so their extreme Christmas remained.
Vindicated by his successful battle against the city, Hyatt ran for city council the same year. He won that, too.
But 2017 ended up being the final Hyatt Family Christmas. The next year the couple separated. He’d abruptly left her in January, when all of their Christmas lights were still up.
She blamed the sudden dissolution of their 27-year marriage on his “newfound power” after winning the city council seat.
“He’s all I know, but yet I don’t know him, so that is hard,” she said.
Hyatt remained a city councilman up until his death.
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