WACONIA, Minn. (WCCO) — What some might consider a home covered in an extreme amount of Christmas decorations is more like a lit-up landmark for neighbor Kari Cedersund.
“Every time I try and describe to someone where I live, they would go, ‘Oh, you live across from the Christmas House,'” Kari said.
It is a name that has lost its luster this season.
“Seeing these lights dark for the first time since we’ve moved here is really hard,” said Bob Zajac, owner of the now dim Christmas House. “My kids are disappointed and our community is disappointed and I struggle with that every day.”
Bob was been decorating his home and yard along Park Point Road with tens of thousands of lights and decorations for about a decade. The display is synchronized to music, creating a lightshow that he says attracts thousands of visitors each year between Thanksgiving and early January.
Kari lives across the street, and grew to expect crowds in front of her home.
“Lot of people out here and they’d have their stereos cranked to the channel, kids sitting on top the cars through the sunroof with blankets and pajamas on,” Kari said. “It was very exciting for me to watch that and watch Bob’s faith grow through his light show.”
The view is not there this year. Bob decided to stop his annual tradition after he says a feud with a neighbor over the display reached a tipping point. That specific neighbor did not want to comment on this story.
Zajac says the neighbor had several complaints that amplified recently. Some included the fact that cars constantly were driving through the cul-de-sac, some trash was left behind, lights were being left up year-round and the noise from so many visitors.
“Faith, hope and love. That’s what Christmas is about,” Bob said. “And I think that fighting for our display violated what I was brought up to believe.”
Neighbors like Kari are trying to remain neutral on the issue. They respect that some people might be bothered by the display, but she is surprised to know it is gone. She especially noticed the change as several cars continued to pull into the cul-de-sac over the weekend.
“It was kind of sad and bittersweet to sit here and know that all these families were looking for a Christmas show that wasn’t there anymore,” Kari said.
Bob says it is important for him to take the high road and respect his neighbor’s opinions. He says he second guesses the idea of canceling his display daily, but feels it was his only choice.
“Everybody has their own belief systems, everyone has their own way of celebrating Christmas and I want to credit to that,” he said.
One aspect he says that is non-negotiable are the decorations his children started putting up in the yard. He said he is allowing all eight of them to choose a few lights or decorations to string up, but nothing close to the type of display for which his home became famous.
“I have 300,000 lights in the garage I can pull out here. I can make this the biggest display ever to prove a point, but that’s not the right message of Christmas,” Bob said.
Instead, he is focused on continuing his tradition elsewhere. Bob says he plans to move to a new home, possibly in a neighborhood where there is more space for his display to not be a potential distraction or concern.
“We’ll have a bigger storage space, more Christmas lights and get bigger every year,” Bob said.
Click here to learn more about Bob’s annual display.