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article imageControversial holiday light show begins despite neighbor protest

By Kim I. Hartman     Dec 4, 2011 in Entertainment
El Paso - An extravagant, annual holiday light show has begun in an El Paso, Texas, community despite complaints by residents who say traffic congestion in the residential neighborhood disrupts their lives, causing them to find alternative routes home.
The computer-synchronized Christmas light display, that has attracted 10,000 visitors per year for the last six years to the home of El Paso insurance company owner Fred Loya, has some neighbors complaining over unwanted traffic, littering and vandalism, according to the El Paso Times.
Eighty members of the upper-class neighborhood signed a petition and presented it to the City Council which said, "The Loya family has turned our community into an amusement park. The actions of one family living amongst us have caused many within our community to dread the holiday season."
Fred Loya disagrees and said "We all have a right to have an opinion. But their alleged inconvenience is outweighed by the joy of all the smiles."
Loya said the elaborate display that illuminates his home cost $50,000 each year, and is his gift to the residents of El Paso. The nine-minute long display consists of over 230,00 electronically controlled lights, synchronized to holiday music, and a dozen newly added search lights, pointed skyward to assist visitors in finding the residence which is located near the Montwood High School in the Texas community.
Loya has secured all the permits necessary to temporarily block the streets for the show which runs three times per night on weekends in December, says city officials. He has also hired off-duty police officers to alleviate traffic congestion and to provide security, rented portable toilets, placed trash receptacles in the area, and hired crews to clean up any litter left after the holiday light show ends.
East Side city Rep. Dr. Michiel "Mike" Noe, who lives in the neighborhood, told the El Paso Times, "he understands residents' concerns but that Loya has done everything legally and has worked to mitigate any problems from the display. The city heard them but we couldn't get across to them that you can't just say 'I don't like what they are doing' and force them to stop. Everyone has the right to do what they legally want. Otherwise we are treating one person unfairly."
One longtime neighborhood resident, Art Aguirre said, "the people who complain are exaggerating problems, and that the presence of off-duty police makes him feel very safe and comfortable. I come here every weekend myself to see the smiles. I think it's great what (Loya) is doing out of his own pocket. I find it hard to believe people would complain about what is free and beautiful entertainment."
Most commenters to the numerous videos posted on YouTube call the show awesome and amazing, and say it has become a traditional part of their holiday season to see the Christmas light display at Loya's home.
Fred Loya told news media who were present at Wednesday night's test run of the holiday light display, "We are proud of the show and as long as the people of El Paso support it, we will keep doing it. They call it the Loya light show. It is not. It is the 'El Paso Christmas Lights' show. The show belongs, not to this neighborhood, it belongs to all of El Paso."
The El Paso Christmas Light show began Dec. 2 and can be seen at 6, 7, and 8 p.m., every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas Day. Loya said parking is available at Montwood High School, and Cross Point Church, 11995 Montwood.
Loya's holiday light display is one of hundreds that attract visitors around the country. The Holdman Christmas house light display in Utah was an annual favourite of residents but was eventually moved to a local mall after traffic exceeded what could be safely handled by area law enforcement and the Home Owners Association put limits on when it could take place.
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