- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2015

Fox News personality Jesse Watters gave the mayor of Plantation, Florida, a surprise visit after learning the city is suing a family for its charitable Christmas lights display that draws thousands of visitors every year.

The impressive lights display at the home of Mark and Kathy Hyatt has become a community-wide tradition for 20 years. Mr. Hyatt said they’ve raised at least $10,000 for charity through donations over the years, but said the mayor wants them to charge admission and share the profits with the city.

“The wonderful hearts these people have to do all of this for their community is unbelievable,” a man dressed as Santa Claus toldMr. Watters.

“The city threatened and enforced a $250 a day lien,” Ms. Hyatt said, “and there’s a lien against my house for $7,000, plus taxes, penalties, interest — I don’t even know how much it is today.”

Mr. Hyatt said he and Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic were friends for years before she “flip-flopped” when she took office.

Local residents who have been visiting the home every year expressed confusion and anger that city officials are suing.

“It’s ridiculous,” said one visitor. “This is a place everybody loves coming — bringing their kids, their moms, their family.”

Mr. Watters confronted the Democratic mayor outside a grocery store and asked her to comment on the lawsuit.

“As much as I would like to comment, we’re in pending litigation right now,” Ms. Bendekovic said.

“Florida Bar Association says that you can comment during a proceeding as long as you don’t prejudice one side or the other,” Mr. Watters responded.

“OK,” Ms. Bendekovic said.

“This isn’t a very good of taxpayer money,” Mr. Watters continued, “going after home owners for a few Christmas lights, is it? … I don’t think Santa’s going to be happy with you.”

“I don’t think you should be voicing your opinion what Santa wants and what Santa doesn’t want, so…” Ms. Bendekovic responded.

“I have a feeling you might be getting coal in your stocking,” Mr. Watters joked.

“Have a nice day and enjoy your visit in Florida,” the mayor said before getting in her car and leaving.

Speaking with Bill O’Reilly back in the Fox News studio, Mr. Watters said, “I think the mayor does not like this family. I think there’s personal issues behind this relationship. There’s some political situations that are going on, being Republicans and Democrats, and she’s just not liking this couple. … She’s vindictive from what I understand.”

Mr. O’Reilly observed: “She didn’t come across well in that interview — that’s for sure.”

The Hyatts have been battling with city officials for years over the size and scale of their lights display, with the city filing a lawsuit earlier this year to shut it down. A scheduled hearing did not take place over the summer as planned and has not yet been rescheduled, The Blaze reported.

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