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Clifton – The Buzzkill Capitol of New Jersey? You Be the Judge [POLL]

Flikr user Teo
Flikr user Teo

It’s becoming a festive time for kids everywhere.

Halloween decorations are going up all over; pumpkins will soon be picked off local farms…and displays are going up in many towns across New Jersey.

All, with the possible exception of one.

According to a recent report, Wayne Gangi of Clifton has enjoyed decorating his home for the past 12 years…so much so that people from far and wide visit his block on Grove Street to check out what surprises he has in store.

However, the town last year gave fun seekers a shock they never saw coming.
Hundreds of folks were ticketed merely for visiting Gangi’s display…much to his and their dismay.

The report continues that:

It’ll be that way again. The city will repeat a tactic it turned to when talks with Gangi failed over paying for extra police to work the scene: no parking allowed evenings and nights before and on Halloween in the neatly kept neighborhood around Gangi’s home at 562 Grove St.

City officials are not stopping the display, but they’re firm: safety is safety.
But that’s left Gangi sad, frustrated and rethinking a Halloween tradition now in its 12th year.

Gangi says his display is a labor of love for the holiday, an homage to the horror genre and an offering to children who enjoy the thrills and chills of Halloween. He grew up watching classic horror flicks and visiting a private haunted house in Montclair each year with his family, and his own tradition started when he crafted a few witch figures in discarded bridesmaid gowns and put them on his lawn.

When he saw how much people enjoyed it, he added to the scene year after year until it grew to be a massive horror show including volunteer actors: On Halloween night, the display comes to life — or, at least, to the un-dead — when monsters roam amid tombstones, smoke churns over the lawn, and scream machines and chainsaws roar.

Gangi, whose profession — dentist — no doubt provides added expertise in fear management, presides over it all as Dracula.

He doesn’t know exactly how many people visit each year, but noted that he gave out 3,000 candy bars to costumed children one recent Halloween.

But the parking tickets and negativity from the city have discouraged him, he said, and caused some volunteers to abandon the effort this year. And that especially hurts because he’s relied on them to mount the extensive display, put on the haunted show and help manage crowds.

Gangi said he may scale back the display — already short of its usual size for early October — and doesn’t know if he’ll host the live haunted show at all — “You lose your enthusiasm to make things happen,” he said.

But, he added, “I feel if I don’t do it, it’s a tremendous disappointment for a lot of people.”

But the city fathers don’t care. To them, they say, it’s all about where people can park, but probably more so, the amount of revenue the city can generate by issuing tickets.

For instance, the report states that

Last year, police ticketed around 300 motorists over three days, including 194 tickets on Halloween alone. They skipped one day, due to a snowstorm. Tickets were mailed weeks later to unknowing drivers who had had their license plate numbers recorded. Most of the tickets carried a $55 penalty.

But neighbors said tickets also had been issued in the weekend prior.

Steven Larsen of Clifton said he got a ticket three weeks after his visit to the house but that his son, who was driving, had never parked the car and it had just crawled past in traffic. He went to court three times before the ticket was dismissed.

Larsen said he won’t go back by car because of the hassle he endured and because he thinks he was ticketed unfairly. He believes the city has taken the wrong approach to the display.

“He’s not doing anything to hurt anybody,” Larsen said. “They should monitor traffic and put a traffic cop out there.”

Not in their minds.

See, that would COST money…not MAKE money!

Sad to think that someone so devoted to his community in wanting to spread some holiday cheer could be discouraged by city bureaucrats who, while they say it’s all in the name of safety, still can’t seem to come up with a way to accommodate Gangi and the hundreds that visit his house of horrors.

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