Too much Christmas spirit rankles neighbors
PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan
PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan (Reuters Life!) - Mike Babick's display of Christmas spirit has grown too popular for some neighbors, who complain his expanding array of lights and holiday figures draw some unwelcome gawkers.
Babick's passion for the holiday has driven him to adorn his modest one-story home in this Kansas City suburb with more than a thousand figures housed in display cases that go up to his rooftop.
Babick, 69, said his display requires a month to set up and draws some 250,000 visitors each year based on a vehicle-counter he installed on his street.
"It's a gigantic Christmas present to everyone -- from me," Babick said in an interview.
But some neighbors say Babick's Yuletide creation has become too popular. Cars, limousines and tour buses sometimes block the street and driveways. Visitors trudge across their lawns, with some pausing to relieve themselves.
"There are too many people any more who don't have respect for others," said Bob Myhre, who lives two doors down.
In response to complaints from some 30 residents, police made Babick's block temporarily one-way and put up no-parking signs, but that has not stopped visitors from parking in private driveways.
"We're not anti-Christmas, nobody's anti-Christmas," said Myhre, who has a modest light display on his home.
Jessie Novak, who lives across the street, said the traffic drawn to Babick's display is bothersome but tolerable.
"I would move if it wasn't there," Novak said of the display. "I know it's crazy and out of the norm, but I really enjoy it. It would beat any store window in New York."
Babick tries to keep cars moving and picks up litter nightly, saying he understands neighbors' concerns.
"There are only a couple of Grinches in the whole bunch," he said.
"We do have a lot of frowns turn to smiles," he said. "What I really like to see is the kids -- the laughing and the smiling. That's my reward."
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