‘Grinch’: Early Christmas light display could cost man up for $1,000 in fines

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Apparently, you can’t start spreading holiday cheer too early in one Florida neighborhood as a homeowner faces a fine of up to $1,000 for jumping the gun on his holiday decorations.

On Nov. 6, less than a week after Halloween, the Moffa family paid a company to install their Christmas lights on their home in the Westchase neighborhood in Tampa Bay.

“That was their only availability, and I can’t climb up on the roof,” Michael Moffa said, WFLA reported. “With the holidays and the pandemic, I think the kids wanted something that’s a little bit more bright to look it.”

Moffa has no intention of taking down his lights and blue and white inflatable menorah despite racking up potential fines of $100 per day, with a maximum penalty of $1,000 from his homeowner’s association (HOA) according to a letter he received alerting him to the violation of HOA rules.

(Video Credit: WFLA)

“Right before Christmas, Merry Christmas to us,” he laughed. “I mean, who could [be] a Grinch to send this out?”

Westchase Community Association attorney Jonathan Ellis explained that the association was responding to a neighbor’s complaint about the cheerful display.

“Which led the community manager to investigate it,” Ellis explained. “One of the things they’re preventing is the person that has the holiday lights up all year-round or things along those lines.”

Their counsel did indicate that if there was enough community support they could be open to changing the policy.

However, as it stands, the current policy doesn’t allow lights or holiday decorations until Thanksgiving day and the HOA has not been receptive to the idea that he simply keep the lights turned off until then.

“So, we gotta take our lights down, which we are not going to do,” Moffa said.

Many decried the ridiculous response of the HOA.

Last year, a Minneapolis homeowner received an anonymous letter condemning his Christmas display that claimed the display was a reminder of “systemic biases” against poor people.

“Twinkling, colorful lights are a reminder of systemic biases against our neighbors who don’t celebrate Christmas or who can’t afford to put up lights of their own,” the letter read.

The letter also claimed that “outward-facing displays” can have a “harmful impact” and called on the homeowner to “challenge these institutional inequities.”


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