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It’s lights out for award-winning holiday display

Posted at 10:11 PM, Dec 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-27 19:15:51-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – The USA Today holiday lights competition winner will pull the plug on the display as of 11 p.m. Saturday night. Display creator Hunter Bottoms said tonight that he wishes he could “keep the lights in forever,” but in the interest of keeping the neighbors near the 14300 block of Long Hill Road happy, the extravagant holiday lights display will be shuttered for the year.

The display was attracting hundreds of visitors from around the region and from other states nightly, Bottoms said. But out of respect for their community, the display will go dark earlier than anticipated.

“We would love to keep them on until Jan. 1 like we did last year,” Bottoms explained. “We’d like to thank everybody who was patient and sorry to all of those who got caught in traffic on the way home.”

"I was hoping he'd be open until New Year's.  I mean I really was,” said Bryce Warne.

"We got to remember...it's not all about the people that want to see it.  But about the people that have to get home,” said Bottoms.

Neighbors like John Geisslinger were concerned about traffic and emergency vehicles gaining access.

"When we stayed in...it was ...we didn't think about it.  As soon as we tried to go out and come back.  Yeah, it was very frustrating.  I would sit on Old Hundred just trying to get into Brandermill,” said Geisslinger.

Bottoms tells CBS 6, he hired off duty officers to help manage the traffic going in and out of the neighborhood.  But he says he couldn't keep them around because of holiday schedules.

"Police officers had to work Christmas eve, Christmas just to direct traffic...you know,” said Bottoms.

And while this holiday tradition is ending, neighbors say it's brought more than just national attention.

"I can hear the laughter, the smiles, the people talking about it.  It is a lot of joy,” said Geisslinger.

Citing that the area’s roads weren't designed for such a heavy flow of traffic, Bottom said that he hoped everyone would understand the decision to shut it down early.

“People have to wait over an hour to drive less than one mile to get to their homes,” he said. “It is unrealistic for us to keep them on. We really apologize to those who were trying to get home.”

Moving forward, Bottoms plans to get in touch with the police prior to setting up next year’s display. Although some neighbors went public about the frustration they were experiencing concerning all of the traffic issues, not one person told the Bottoms family to shut it down.

“The cool thing is we haven’t had one neighbor leave a note or anything so if they are mad, they've been keeping it to themselves,” Bottoms said.

In the future, Bottoms said that he plans to not promote the display as much.

“We’re finally at a point where I don’t have to tell people where we are at,” he said.