Christmas House Owner Hit With Summons

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Left under Growth Richter's holiday tree this past Wednesday were two summonses from the Village of Lindenhurst, claiming her Christmas display was in violation of village codes. (Published Friday, Dec 3, 2010)

    Over 32,000 nights surround the two-story home in Lindenhurst.  Outside, plastic toy soldiers, angels, Santa and his reindeer, and a Christmas merry-go-round adorn a front yard overflowing with a decorative display of holiday cheer.

    "My son and I spend a month setting it all up, said the home's owner, Mary Growth Richter. "Christmas is my favorite time of year."

    Not this year. 

    Left under Growth Richter's holiday tree this past Wednesday were two summonses from the Village of Lindenhurst, claiming her Christmas display was in violation of village codes. 

    "We've gotten complaints about this house for years," said village clerk-administrator Shawn Cullinane. 

    "There are serious safety concerns with this house."

    Specifically, the village claims that some of the holiday decorations have spilled onto a neighbor's fence and are blocking the village's right of way, a strip of property in front of Growth Richter's home.

    In addition, some of the electric wiring for the display has no certification, according to Cullinane.

    "I was beyond mad," said Growth Richter.  "I don't understand why they are doing this. I am just trying to do something to make people happy."

    The summonses order Growth Richter to appear before a village court later this month and, according to the homeowner, she could be jailed if she doesn't respond.

    "We encourage people to put up Christmas displays," said Cullinane. 

    "But they have to do it the right way."

    After receiving the summonses, Growth Richter considered "throwing in the towel," and ending the show she has put on outside her home for twelve years.  But she decided to keep going.

    "I have to move forward," Growth Richter said.   "I have had people telling me how happy this makes them.  I am not doing this to hurt anyone.  With the economy the way it is, I think people need some joy in their lives."

    Over the last twelve years, the holiday display has raised small amounts of money for charity.  This year, Growth Richter is collecting donations for a childhood cancer research foundation.

    "It's not right what they are doing to her," said Lisa Lyons, a local mom who has visited the Christmas display every year.

    Lyons stood outside the home Friday, accompanied by her daughter, Ashley,9- a survivor of leukemia.

    "They are trying to raise money to help kids with cancer like my daughter," Lyons added.   "It's insane what this village is doing.  They could have cut them a break."