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Town up in arms over 300,000-light holiday display

The holiday spirit is taking a beating in one Connecticut town — where neighbors are saying bah, humbug to a dazzling display of Christmas lights that draws thousands of gawkers and raises cash for sick kids.

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But the display, which features more than 300,000 lights, a model train and scores of holiday figures, also creates a traffic nightmare for some neighbors, who’ve launched a petition drive to shut it down or place restrictions on the display, the Connecticut Post reported.

“We’re not happy about it,” said Gene Halliwell, whose “Wonderland on Roseville” Terrace in Fairfield has become a beloved tradition over the past 18 years.

Halliwell and his wife, Mary, charge admission to tour the house and yard, and, they say, make a “significant” annual donation to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, Mass.

He also said shutting down the display would hurt local businesses because many families who come to enjoy the lights also dine out at one of the many eateries along nearby Black Rock Turnpike, a busy commercial strip.

“There will be businesses losing out,” he told the paper. “People come here and have dinner and then go see the lights.”

But neighbors said the display — which opens on Thanksgiving and stays open nightly until 11 p.m. before shutting down on New Year’s Day — creates chaos and a traffic nightmare in the residential neighborhood of single-family homes on relatively small lots.

Neighbor Nadine Losquadro submitted a petition with 45 signatures to the first selectman’s office and is working with the police department to figure out a way to control the traffic, which she said poses a danger to kids and elderly residents who live nearby.

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Neighbors, she told the paper, “appreciate the entertainment to the community and the charity that the Wonderland at Roseville brings. However, our concern is the event’s traffic and parking situation which presents a significant public safety concern for our neighborhood.”

Losquadro said a possible compromise could place a “no event parking” restriction on Roseville Terrace and nearby Sawyer Road that would allow residents who live on those streets to still park there, but require visitors to park in any of the large lots on the commercial strip nearby and schlep over to the display with the help of a crossing guard.

But town cops threw cold water on the parking plan, and Maryann Halliwell, Gene’s daughter, wasn’t optimistic that a compromise could be reached.

“We’re trying to figure out what to do. It’s probably our last year, it’s a real shame,” she said.

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