OSGOOD, Ind. – Not only has the Grinch stolen Christmas in one Indiana town, he also demanded the holiday lights be turned off on his way out the door.
At least that’s the sentiment of some residents near Osgood, Indiana after traffic issues caused organizers of the Lohrum Christmas Extravaganza to shut down their Christmas light display Saturday on West County Road 525 North.
“Do you risk getting viewers in trouble with the law?” said Josh Lohrum, who put up the display. “This is the easiest way to handle it until we can figure out what to do.”
Josh flipped off the switch on the 60,000 light display started in 1997 after he was informed by a Ripley County Sheriff’s Office deputy that those driving by to see the display could be ticketed.
“If you (driver) are blocking the proper flow of traffic you can be cited for obstructing traffic,” said Ripley County Sheriff Tom Grills. “At no time did we tell anyone to shut off the lights. That’s not our place.”
The warning to motorists was issued after the sheriff's office received complaints of people stopping on the road, or pulling off into the shoulder and front yards of neighbors to get a better view of the spectacle that includes 25,000 bulbs synchronized to music.
In an earlier Lohrum Christmas Extravaganza Facebook post, Josh asked people not stop on the road, but to drive by slowly and not use any of the neighbors’ driveways.
The message did not solve tension with neighbors, or traffic, which in turn upset Josh and his parents Johnny and Helen Lohrum, whose house is the one decorated.
“I’m just trying to keep a tradition going,” Josh said.
Specifically, Josh said his parents' display tripled in size after inheriting the light display of Joe Day, a Versailles, Ind. man who provided an epic light show for over 32 years. Joe died in 2011.
“Joe’s wife asked me to join his lights with my display,” he said.
When Josh agreed, he had no idea it would cause so many problems.
“I did not expect to have an issue with traffic like this or with anybody,” he said. “We hadn’t had issues in the past. It’s very upsetting to me. I take pride and joy in the lights. Knowing that we need to shut them down to let the situation die down, yeah, it’s hard to handle.”
Josh said the display would be lit up on Christmas Eve, and hopefully sooner if his family and neighbors can find an agreeable solution. In the meantime, he and his family left a message on the extravaganza's Facebook page stating, "We do not want any viewers to stop and view the display and risk the chance on getting hurt or receiving a ticket for impeding the flow of traffic."
And as far as those who enjoy the display?
“I understand...but it’s hard to hear things like this when you and your crew have worked so hard to make something so nice for people and their families to enjoy,” said Delbert M. Felix on a Facebook post.