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This family's extravagant Christmas light tradition got them sued by their city. They won.


This family's extravagant Christmas light tradition got them sued by their city. They won.

WATCH  | Plantation, Fla. residents Mark and Kathy Hyatt have been putting on their "Hyatt Extreme Christmas" since they got married in 1990. What started off as a family tradition has turned into a Plantation holiday landmark.

We wanted to build a place where everybody could go for free and be able to enjoy the traditions that we've cherished for so many years.
Mark Hyatt

Mark and Kathy are so passionate about the holidays that they wanted to share their spirit with their community. 

They've either made the displays from scratch, bought them at garage sales or received them as donations. 

Watters' World: Christmas display controversy edition

WATCH  | In 2014 the City of Plantation sued Mark and Kathy Hyatt and tried to put an end to their three generation tradition of over-the-top Christmas decor. 

Public nuisance and safety hazard

The city  claimed that the "traffic nightmare" on the Hyatt's street was an accident waiting to happen. The Hyatts had been fighting with the city since 2006 and wanted to be left to celebrate the holidays as they saw fit. 

So they took to social media to defend "the meaning of Christmas" and decree how their event gave visitors the chance to "celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

They won. The judge ruled that the city failed to prove that their display was a nuisance. 

The verdict was in just in time for this year's display to get started. 

The prep work alone (takes time)... because you can't put Christmas on dirty.
Kathy Hyatt

Usually it takes a good month just to set up the display. "The house, the lighting, the roof, the fence, the trimming, the mowing, all the building stages," Mark Hyatt explained. 

The Hyatts say it takes 8-10 weeks to complete the finished look. That includes putting up more than 200,000 Christmas lights. 

The Hyatt children have also inherited their parents love for Christmas. 

I learned a lot of things I'll do when I carry on the tradition of 'Hyatt Extreme Christmas.' All my friends come and volunteer. We get to talk to people and say 'Merry Christmas.'
Matthew Hyatt

Fifteen-year-old Matthew enjoys it all. "From putting up lights and learning power management, how to wire things, amps. It's fun. Before I didn't know what half the tools were." Quiet Melissa, who's 12, also helps. 

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The Hyatts rely on help from friends and family but they are also lucky enough to  have around 15-20 volunteers every season.  People love to come and help hang lights and install various decorations. 

We've had an opportunity to interact with a lot of the high schools. A lot of great kids have come out and put their time in. Even if it was just to do one palm tree... every little bit helped.
Mark Hyatt

When they first started they partnered with the city and had kids working service hours to help them build their biggest display pieces. 

The most frequently asked question for Mark Hyatt is how much he spends on electricity. 

Four years ago we had a theme...'Hyatt extreme goes green'. We switched to an LED format. That reduced our bill for the whole season to be less than $500.
Mark Hyatt

He explained that since the Hyatt's have "gone green", the electricity bill has been drastically reduced. "At one point when we were still using iridescent lighting, we were averaging $100 a day to run our display. Our display runs 30 days, so that's $3,000 a month."

Their Christmas tradition has attracted the admiration of over 11,000 Facebook fans. 

They've even made a website and blog that has just about everything you can ever want to know about their family, Christmas tradition and all the various charities they have partnered with over the years. 

Mark and Kathy are excited to be currently working with the Humane Society, Broward County Food Bank, American Red Cross, and a military charity called "Holiday Cards for Heroes" among others. 

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