And the winner is… no one at this point.
The Crown Point Parkway dispute over a Christmas display and the accompanying Thanksgiving evening fireworks went before Magistrate Lawrence G. Sheehe Jr. in Berea Municipal Court on Jan. 30.
After the verbal fireworks were heard in Small Claims Court, Sheehe did not issue a ruling. He wanted more time to view the documents presented to him. His ruling will be sent to both parties in writing within the coming days.
Crown Point Parkway resident Kevin Roberts is seeking $3,000 in damages and is also asking that the fireworks show cease on a permanent basis.
“I want to send a clear message that this (fireworks display) is illegal and never to do it again,” Roberts said. “I hope he ceases doing it. He can have his lights and celebrate, and I don’t want to be involved in it. I was involved in it, and I’m no longer, and that is all there is to it.”
Dan Hoag, who organizes the display and sets the fireworks off in his backyard, feels the lawsuit is the result of a “vendetta” Roberts has against his neighbors.
“Clearly, this (dispute) hurt,” Sheehe said. “It hurt everyone involved.”
Roberts alleges the fireworks have damaged his property, and that his sister, Cheryl, was harassed and heckled when she tried to drive through the crowd two years ago.
“I went as slow as possible... through the crowd,” Cheryl Roberts testified. “People were swearing at me, banging on my car.”
Roberts’ other sister, Donna Medlin, testified on Hoag’s behalf, saying her brother vowed to live in the Crown Point Parkway house, which originally belonged to their father, for the rest of his life “just so he can make the neighbors’ lives as miserable as possible.”
Kevin Roberts did not dispute Medlin’s account.
“They made my father’s life miserable. I want it to stop, or his (Hoag’s) life, I want to be miserable too,” Roberts said.
Kevin Roberts also said he got an estimate of $305 from his insurance company to clean debris from the fireworks from his gutters, roof, lawn and car.
“I’d write him a check tomorrow for $300,” Hoag told Sheehe. “There’s no reason to go through all this.” Roberts was one of the individuals who helped the display get started a number of years ago. Things changed around 2000, according to Hoag.
“He helped do a lot of the wiring. He helped put up the lights. He was there in the beginning when we got started,” Hoag said. “He is not happy unless he’s making other people miserable. It’s a sad thing because he was a friend up until 2000.”
The Crown Point Parkway holiday display includes hundreds of thousands of lights on houses, in yards and on archways that line the sidewalks throughout the cul-de-sac.
Hoag said that, at one point, Roberts was calling the police to the Crown Point Parkway display for a number of reasons including loud music, too many children, the presence of Santa Claus and too many cars.
“The police would show up and say there was no problem. Eventually Mayor (Walter) Ehrnfelt brought him (Roberts) in with the law director and said, ‘Look, he’s not doing anything illegal. We can’t stop him nor do we want to stop him,’” Hoag said.
Three donation boxes are on site each year so visitors can give to a local charity or family in need. More than $4,000 was donated this past season to the family of an 11-year-old Parma boy battling stage-four brain cancer.
Sheehe said he thought it was “wonderful” that donations are accepted from visitors and given to a local charity or needy family.
“I’d be happy to shake his hand and move forward. I have no animosity. I like the guy. He is actually a nice guy when you get to know him,” Hoag said.
“I’m not going to pay any attention to him. We’re pretty much done,” Roberts said.