Family fights to bring back holiday light display

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(Source: Go Fund me) (Source: Go Fund me)
Neighbors complained to the City of Phoenix months ago about the traffic problems his display caused in the neighborhood. (Source: GoFundMe) Neighbors complained to the City of Phoenix months ago about the traffic problems his display caused in the neighborhood. (Source: GoFundMe)
Sepanek says he never started decorating. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Sepanek says he never started decorating. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Christmas display in Arcadia is not happening this year and the homeowner is blaming his neighbors.

Turns out not everyone is a fan of their over-the-top, elaborate holiday light display.

“It makes me sad, something I’ve done for over 30 years," said lee Sepanek.

Lee Sepanek started putting up his Christmas display for his son 30 years ago. At first, it was just a few lights but it grew bigger each year.

"I’m not going to put it up this year," said Sepanek.

The display has been a holiday tradition in the neighborhood for decades, drawing people from around the Valley.

But neighbors complained to the City of Phoenix months ago about the traffic problems his display caused in the neighborhood.

"It was more about the issue of people blocking driveways. I wish I mean I think they should have come to me first and talked it over instead of going to the city," said Sepanek.

The neighbor also reportedly says that the family violates city code because they sell hot cocoa to visitors. Sepanek had been selling cocoa and Christmas cookies to help defray the cost of putting on the extravagant holiday display.

The City of Phoenix met with Sepanek in October.

"They told me that they can't stop me from decorating but if they have more complaints of blocked driveways, which I know will happen, they would come over and shut me down," said Sepanek.

So we contacted the City. They wouldn't go on camera but did say they had met with Sepanek and gave him suggestions about traffic control. And never issued any violations or told him to shut down.

"We got a call last night. We learned about a house in Arcadia that for 30-plus years has been doing this incredible, non-denominational Christmas display at their house. Neighbors all love the thing," said Sam Stone, Chief of Staff for Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. "They've had some folks move in, a couple of folks move in the last two years, who started complaining. They filed a preemptive complaint this year, and we ended with the city neighborhood services division going out there and actually shutting these folks down before they could put up their Christmas lights."

Sepanek says the meeting left him discouraged, so he never started decorating.

"I’m gonna put up a big sign at the end of my driveway explaining what happened,” said Sepanek.

But the Christmas spirit is not lost. Those neighbors who support Sepanek came to him with an idea. They are taking his lights and decorations and putting them up at seven houses in the neighborhood.

Stone says his office is worried about how all this happened.

"If all it takes, is one complaint, two complaints, to get the City to come in and send somebody to shut down a Christmas display, then there's going to be no more Christmas in the city of Phoenix," said Stone.

if you'd like more information or would like to contribute to the re-lighting of the Christmas house, you can visit Sepanek's GoFundMe page.

"This is something people all across the city have come to see," said Stone. "It's a tradition. These folks have gone out of their way to accommodate their neighborhood and this is what happens. It's totally wrong," Stone said.

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