Happy Holidays from CNN Interactive


Banned yule lights
find home at Disney

December 10, 1995
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From Correspondent John Zarrella

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- After battles that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, neighbors finally got what they wanted. An eye-popping Christmas light extravaganza at the Jennings Osborne home in Little Rock, Arkansas, is now dark. Osborne has moved his display to a new neighborhood where the lights are on, but nobody's home.

the Osbornes

For eight years, Osborne, a Little Rock businessman, did what many people do at Christmas. He decorated his home and yard with lights. But he must have hit every sale on colored bulbs in the country because he used 2 million of them. (Two 500K QuickTime movies - Here and here.) And those millions of lights brought thousands of visitors to gawk and point, which brought Osborne's neighbors to a boil.

"I'm very concerned, because if you had a medical emergency or you needed the fire department, I don't know how they'd get in and out," a neighbor said.


Turned off by the trampling feet and steady stream of cars, neighbors took Osborne to court. The Arkansas court ruled that Osborne's display was a nuisance. The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which refused to hear an appeal.

"After our journey to the U.S. Supreme Court ended in June, Jennings said he thought we would still have Christmas because we have God and Santa Claus and all the kids on our sides," said Osborne's wife, Mitzi.

And he was right. Disney World has set up Osborne's entire display at its MGM Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida. "This isn't our product. This is someone else we went to and this is basically a private citizen. But it was of such grand scale that we thought, 'hey, it's a perfect fit for us.' Kind of a fairy tale ending to his story also," said Disney spokesman John Phelan.


Every night at dusk, a child throws the switch to turn on Osborne's lights. And they're still on a residential street. In fact, it's called Residential Street. But here, no one worries about the neighbors.

And no one worries about all the spectators. On this street, the houses are facades of the homes used in television shows -- a perfect place for the Osborne lights.

"I guess I can relate to what the neighbors were trying to say and the power surges going through the neighborhood must have been just awful," a Disney light observer says.

Disney won't say what arrangement was made with Osborne for his display, but it's unlikely the Arkansas family will ever have to wait in line for tickets to the Magic Kingdom.


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