Christmas is slated to be a little less magical this year for Mike Babick, a resident of Prairie Village, Kansas. Every year, Babick erects a unique holiday lights display — one that attracts a massive audience of onlookers. But this year, a new city ordinance restricts his ability to put on the massive display with limited government oversight.
Last Monday, new regulations were passed that would require permits in order for any individual to put on a “special event” that lasts five days or more. In addition to the time frame, the ordinance impacts any initiative that “is likely to or does in fact generate crowds … sufficient in size to obstruct, delay or interfere with the safe and orderly movement of … traffic.”
“It stinks,” Babick said of the changes after the regulations were put into place. “They’ve killed Christmas for me. Just killed it.”
The 47-year tradition will potentially end after the new costs are slated to hit this year. Now, the man who some refer to as “Mr. Christmas” is anything but contented by the decision.
While Babick is obviously outraged and feels singled out, local police spokesman Capt. Wes Lovett claims that there are legitimate concerns that have led to the regulations, which would only impact three city events (including Babick’s holiday display).
See the breath-taking video, below:
Because large crowds gather in his yard to see the lights, neighbors have complained about litter, blocked driveways, public urination and other such issues. Plus, the crowds are so massive that police and firetrucks aren’t able to get through, if needed.
As a result of the chaos, Babick would have to hire off-duty police officers at $44.69 per hour to control the crowds. There’s a three-hour minimum, which would truly add up in terms of cost for the homeowner. Plus, he would need to hire the officers on most Friday and Saturday nights, from Thanksgiving until New Year’s, when the display is most popular.
“It’s become a real safety hazard,” Lovett maintains.
Here’s video footage from the 2010 lights display:
But Babick is denying these claims, countering that he has been active in cleaning up the litter and encouraging open roads.
The homeowner is looking at his legal options and it seems that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is already on his side, with Doug Bonney, legal director of the organization’s local branch, claiming that “it’s the goofiest permit ordinance” he’s ever seen.
There’s no telling whether Babick will be able to put the lights out, as he typically does. The decision will depend on his legal options and whether he can raise the funds needed to pay the officers. Some media are reporting that he will be moving the display to another location, something that seems likely — at least for this year — considering the current scenario.
(H/T: Kansas City)