Everyone has their own Christmas traditions, but few are as spectacular as the one practiced by Waconia man Bob Zajac and his family, who put on a synchronized musical light show in their backyard every year.
Each Yuletide saw the display grow more and more intricate, with strobe lights, glowing statues and LEDs galore – delighting all members of the local community.
Well, almost everyone: Zajac has been in a battle of wills with one of his neighbors, who has hated annual extravaganzas, for years. And now, finally, he’s unplugging the show, CBS Local reported.
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Winter Lights: The home of Bob Zajac and his family had become famous for its elaborate Christmas decorations, which included synchronized lights and music.
Silent night: This year, after a feud with one of his neighbors, Zajac decided to tone it down — much to his disappointment and that of others in Waconia, Wisconsin
Spirit of Christmas: Zajac says he could have forced it, but he didn’t believe lighting up the house out of spite was in the spirit of Christmas, so he decided to tone it down this year
“Seeing these dark lights for the first time since we moved here is really difficult,” Zajac said.
“My kids are disappointed and our community is disappointed and I struggle with that every day.”
Neighbor Kari Cedersund, who lives across the street from the dazzling display, was one of those who loved Zajac’s exhibits.
“A lot of people here and they would have their stereos plugged into the channel, kids sitting on the cars through the sunroof with blankets and pajamas on,” Kari said.
“It was very exciting for me to watch this and see Bob’s faith grow through his light show.”
But now that the light show has been dimmed – and to hear it say it, Zajac had no choice.
The neighbor had complained for years about cars being pulled into the street – more than 3,000 last year, Zajac estimated – as well as noise and litter created by spectators.
But the feud reached breaking point this year, Zajac said on his websitewhen the neighbor “did everything possible to intimidate my wife, frighten my children, and tried in vain to turn our other neighbors against us”.
The neighbor refused to speak to CBS.
Snow joke: Decorations drew up to 3,000 cars to Zajac road last year, he estimates – but he claims his neighbour, who has always hated the lights, was making his life difficult
Zajac is convinced that he would have won any lawsuit the neighbor might have brought.
But he says taking the battle to that extreme would have ruined the Christmas spirit.
“Everyone has their own belief system, everyone has their own way of celebrating Christmas and I want to thank them,” Zajac said.
“I have 300,000 lamps in the garage that I can pull out here. I can make this the biggest exhibition ever, but that’s the wrong Christmas message.
Dim view: The neighbor, who didn’t want to talk to the press, won. But Zajac and his family are moving next year and will be starting their tradition over in a brand new location.
The Zajacs will be moving this year so they can revive their light show in their new neighborhood next year – and they’ve promised to invite (almost) all of their former neighbors.
In the meantime, Bob Zajac has put his foot down and made sure that at least a few lights will come on in his yard – but only a few, chosen by his children.
“Thank you to our children, each picking out a few string lights and placing them wherever they see fit in the yard,” he wrote on his website.
Those lights included “a penguin high in one of the trees,” he said. ‘A bit random, but I love it!’
Fan: Zajac’s neighbor Kari Cedersund says she loved the show and is sad to see it go the other way