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He Started Putting Up Xmas Lights in October. One Problem

Old Bridge, NJ, wants Tom Apruzzi to pay $2K per night for security
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2018 3:29 PM CST
Updated Nov 29, 2018 2:56 AM CST
An image from the GoFundMe campaign.   (GoFundMe)

(Newser) – Tom Apruzzi does Christmas BIG. Per the Bridgewater Courier News, the Old Bridge, New Jersey, man's holiday display contains 300,000 lights, synchronized music, and starts going up in October. The scene can draw as many as 1,000 people a night from as far away as New York and Pennsylvania. Neighbors aren't fans of those crowds: They say the 24-foot-wide road becomes clogged with parked cars on both sides and pedestrians in the middle, which critics call a dangerous situation. NJ.com reports that in years past, an auxiliary police group would man the scene free of charge. The town now says that's not enough: Mayor Owen Henry says Apruzzi needs to fork over $2,000 per night to pay for police officers, moveable light posts, and fuel. Apruzzi says those lights are going up Dec. 1 come hell or high water.

"We're not gonna listen to what the police have to say," he said. "It is my First Amendment rights, it has to do with my religion." (He's Catholic.) A GoFundMe campaign has been started on his behalf and seeks $75,000 to cover the town's fees, but Apruzzi says that the amount raised won't affect his plans (and at $1,600 raised as of this writing, he has a ways to go). Chief of Police William Volkert says he'll have cops present even if Apruzzi doesn't foot the bill, and the mayor insisted Wednesday that he isn't planning to shut the light show down if Apruzzi doesn't pay. But things have gotten a little crazy: One of Apruzzi's windows was shot with a BB gun, and he has pondered moving to a "Christmas-light friendly" town. The GoFundMe page notes the display is a 15-year tradition in the town: "Residents will tell you that they were brought to the Apruzzi house as kids and now bring their own kids to witness the amazing display." (A zombie nativity has also caused drama.)

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