Complaints of traffic gridlock end Sunrise home’s holiday light show

Article Courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel
By Christy McKerney 
Posted November 29, 2003 

SUNRISE · Santa Claus? History.
Donner and Blitzen? Out of here.

Christmas lovers Ed Bussiere and Jason Wade have pulled the plug on an elaborate holiday light display that last year ranked among the best home decorations in the country.

The reason? The two say some Shannon Estates neighbors have complained to the management company and homeowners association that the display is a nuisance because it attracts too much traffic to their otherwise quiet neighborhood.

"After we got the last letter, I told Jason, we need to just forget about
it this year, and let them see what it's like to live in a dark neighborhood again with no enjoyment," Bussiere said.

Attempts to reach Miami Management's Shannon Estates Property Manager Ann Campbell were unsuccessful despite several calls for comment.

Gone are the half-million twinkling lights, hundreds of Santas, six electric trains, a menorah and the yard full of decorations that dazzled the judges of the NBC Today Show holiday home decorating contest, finishing third. The display has lit up the Shannon Estates neighborhood for three years.

Lights out
Jason Wade, left, and Ed Bussiere planned their usual Christmas light show at their Sunrise home but neighbors’ objections to traffic snarls brought on by the display made them call off this year’s display. They’re seen here outside last year’s show.
But some residents hated the gridlock caused by an estimated 10,000 people who visited to see the holiday home last year. The display would stay up throughout the holiday season.

"I would say there are mixed emotions," said resident Rhonda Zimmerman, who lives about a block away and was sorry to see the display go. "I would be willing to take the traffic because it was just so pretty. It was just beautiful."

Bussiere and Wade have also canceled their annual day-after-Thanksgiving holiday lighting party and potluck they invited neighbors to in front of their home, 1001 NW 132nd Ave.

But the crowds also brought congested roads, sidewalks and swales as well as blocked driveways, according to a Feb. 27 letter written to Bussiere and Wade by Campbell on behalf of the homeowners association board of directors.

"The association wishes to reiterate that it understands the enjoyment you bring to many during the holiday season with your display, but because of the impact it has on the community, it is asking for your assistance in providing a solution to the problems created," Campbell said in the letter.

Homeowners association regulations prohibit activities if they become an annoyance to a neighbor.

Bussiere said he and Wade responded by proposing to scale back tours to Fridays and Saturdays and not to enter any national holiday decorating contests. But, he said, the management company and association tacked on additional restrictions to which they did not agree.

The management company wanted the display shut down at 10 p.m. each night, for Bussiere and Wade to manage traffic and to post a sign at the community entrance advising visitors of off-site parking.

This year, all they'll put up in front of their home is a sign directing holiday revelers to a Christmas store in Davie that Bussiere started in October.

The massive light display, which has attracted holiday lights enthusiasts from all over South Florida, took 30 minutes to light and cost $1,500 to $2,000 a month in electric bills. The pair would begin decorating inside their home in September or October, then start bringing decorations outside after Halloween.

They opened their home free to passersby every night of the week except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Bussiere said the big losers will be the neighborhood children. "We do it mainly for the kids," he said. "The sad part is a lot of the neighbors who have kids are upset because they look forward to this every year, and now they know it's not happening."