‘Christmas House’ in Phoenix Won’t Have Lights This Year… But There’s a Twist

Lee and Patricia Sepanek have been decorating their Phoenix home with a stunning display of Christmas lights for more than three decades. But not this year … after objections from new neighbors, city officials wanted the couple to make some big changes, so the Sepaneks are taking a break.

Lee Sepanek joined Glenn on today’s show to talk about the ridiculous hoops he says officials wanted him to jump through in order to maintain his holiday traditions of lavishly decorating his home and providing cocoa for visitors.

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This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: I read a story a couple weeks ago about a guy who has put Christmas lights up on his home for 30 years. He's decorated his home in Arizona. And he spends like three months decorating and getting everything -- getting everything right.

Nobody has ever complained in his neighborhood. Somebody moved, and then a new family moved in. And they claimed to the city and said that, you know, the traffic is just horrible.

And so the city came in and said, "You have to stop this." Because he was violating code because he was selling hot chocolate to try to pay for, you know, the -- the work of putting the lights up, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. He said, "I'll give it away." They said, "You can't even do that." So he stopped decorating, for the first time in 30 years. His name is Lee steponic. (?) and Lee is with us now. Hello, Lee, how are you?

LEE: Good. How are you, Glenn?

GLENN: So tell me what the reaction has been in your neighborhood.

LEE: Oh, the neighborhood -- once they found out what was going on, just totally upset. I still have cars driving by, just to see the dark house.

(chuckling)

LEE: But, of course, we turned the tables on the city a little bit because we took all of my lights and we decorated ten homes on my street.

GLENN: Wow. Wow.

LEE: Wow and so other neighbors have joined in. (?) 15 houses that are now decorated. And there's only about three that are not.

GLENN: And are one of those three the one that complained? Do you know who complained?

LEE: Yes, I know.

GLENN: And did they talk to you about it? Because I have to be honest with you, Lee. I lived in Connecticut, and there was a house on my street. And there was only one way to get to my house. (?) I loved it. I loved it. And became friends with him and everything else. He would spend three, four months putting them up and taking them down. And he loved it. And people would come from all over. I, on the other hand, was the neighbor that was just trying to get home, hated the traffic, but I lived with it. Can you understand why someone would be like, "This is ridiculous on my street?"

LEE: Well, I understood that completely. And I've always said for years, you know, I've lived in this home on this street since 1973. So basically what had happened is I've outlived the neighbors. Because the people that were living here when I moved in have passed away or moved away. So the ones (?) not even a year ago. I looked up the tax records and they moved in February of 2016. So the first experience they (?) caused them to complain to the city. But I've since learned from their immediate neighbors that they're the type that complain about everything. They actually went so far to ask one of their neighbors to cut down a tree on their property because some of their leaves were blowing into their yard.

GLENN: Wow. Okay.

LEE: Okay. You know the kind we're talking about?

GLENN: Yeah, I do. I've had those kinds of neighbors. And, you know, what solves that is if you just mysteriously find bamboo planted somewhere no one else yard. Anyway, that's a different story.

LEE: I offered to -- it was a matter of blocked driveways. I offered (?) please do not block this driveway. I was going to put that at the leading edge of everyone's driveway up and down my street. And the city official from (?) because it's a right of way. And I was like, but there's no sidewalks.

So where am I impeding people's natural flow if there's no sidewalks in

GLENN: So what are you going to do now, lee? I'm just looking -- (?), I mean, what are you paying your power bill?

LEE: My power bill run me about 1500 a year.

GLENN: I mean, it's quite the show.

So what are you going to do? You said you're not going to do it this year, but you said you are going to do it next year.

LEE: The way (?) cocoa being offered for donation.

So they've backed off on that. Due to -- you know, pushback from the neighborhood, from legal. Basically, I got representation -- because I have a -- an individual host has been coming here for years, and his children are little. And when he found out it wasn't going to do this anymore. He got all up in arms and contacted a whole bunch of people that he knew that came to my -- to my support. And have been great about it. And our own district six councilman, as soon as he heard about this, he went to the city and started working on my behalf to get this overturned.

So as it looks right now, it looks pretty good. We'll probably do it again next year.

GLENN: So you're -- you also started a GoFundMe page. And you started that because you were -- you were taking the profits of the hot cocoa and, you know -- that allowed you to do this and put the lights and buy new stuff, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And the city won't let you do that because you don't have a license. So now you're trying to raise the money through GoFundMe?

LEE: That's correct, yeah. So what I used to get -- and I didn't make that. I was selling a cup of cocoa for a dollar.

GLENN: Right.

LEE: So it probably cost me 50 cents with the lid, the cup, the powder (?) it's not like I made a lot -- the show never -- never made a profit. Okay?

But it helped take the sting out of the costs.

GLENN: The -- I'm seeing the video. There's a -- it looks like, almost like a -- I don't know, a fair or something.

LEE: Yeah, that's one of my decorated windows. I have six of them. That's the reason why people stop, get out of their car, and come to -- my windows rival Macy's.

GLENN: Did you build this? Because I'm looking at this and I can't -- it looks like a legitimate fair. So did you make all of that?

LEE: No. Over the -- I've been collecting stuff for over 40 years. And, you know, I think the window you have there, that's the combination with the train --

GLENN: Yeah.

LEE: That's actually my kitchen window. And everyone has done differently. I don't think I even sent you the one. I could send you the one -- the real fair.

GLENN: Like the tee cup. The tee cup thing. (?)

LEE: Right. Right.

GLENN: Was there.

STU: I can't even bring myself to go to the gym for 15 minutes. You're spending nine to ten hours a day for three months. So this begins in, what? August?

LEE: September. This (?) the third week of September. Takes about two weeks to go through the lights and fix them and get them ready to go. And then we start beginning -- in fact, I had the lights here. We had been working on it for two weeks when I met with the city. And I hadn't started to decorate yet. So then after meeting with them, I decided, they were just making it too -- they can't directly tell me I cannot put up my lights. But if you take and make it difficult all the way around in every other aspect, you discourage people from doing so. And that's what they tried to do.

GLENN: Yeah.

STU: Yep.

GLENN: So how old a man are you, Lee.

LEE: I'm 66 years old.

GLENN: And when you say (?)

LEE: I have a gentleman who volunteers his time and helps and then my wife. So the three of us.

GLENN: Has your wife ever said, okay. Lee, enough.

LEE: Oh, yeah, that -- every year.

GLENN: Okay. Yeah, right.

LEE: You have to understand, we go out every night from Thanksgiving to New Year's, greet people, serve up cookies or cocoa. Only nights we are not out there is if it's pouring down rain, and I'll turn the lights (?)

GLENN: I can't do you do it, Lee?

LEE: It's just something I've been doing since I was ten years old. (?) started doing it when I was a kid. Living with my parents. And moved to Phoenix in '73. Didn't do it for a number of years, until my youngest was born. And we would go around looking (?) he started saying, well, we don't have any on our house, why can't we do it on our house? So we started doing it. And started out small. And it's grown into what it is today.

STU: I'm fascinated about this. So September, October, November is setup. Then through November and (?) through January, you're doing -- you're out there working it every day with the lights. And then there's a teardown process. How long does the teardown take?

LEE: Usually a month. (?) a month and a half to take it down.

STU: I mean, that is legitimately half of your year.

LEE: Yes.

STU: That's an incredible amount of dedication. I mean, I like Christmas.

GLENN: See, I don't think I would ever take them down, Lee.

STU: Yeah. I think you would just leave them down.

GLENN: (?) I don't care.

LEE: Yeah. You know what, I kind of hate that. (?) you see eagle lights hanging off --

GLENN: I'm not saying it's a good look.

STU: You just tarp the whole house. (?) put a big tarp on top of it, you move somewhere else --

GLENN: Put camouflage negative over the house.

LEE: You know, that would be great. A lot of this stuff is made out of plastic. And our son ruins that. (?) it would be no good anyway.

GLENN: Yeah. All right. Lee, best of luck to you. Do you have the address for the -- Stu, do you happen to have the GoFundMe page?

STU: I do. (?) it says, help relight Christmas house is where you can go to find it. It's a great goal. It will put you back to work, lee. I hope you're prepared for that.

LEE: That's okay. You know, I look forward to it every year. People don't realize. This is a year-round thing for me. Because if I'm not putting it up or (?) I'm planning.

GLENN: God bless you. God bless your wife, lee.

LEE: Yes. I know, yeah.

GLENN: God bless you.

STU: Lee soponic is the guy who is doing the Christmas display in Phoenix. It's GoFundMe.com. (?) I had one string of lights that I had to hang on the back porch of our house. And I put it up in like October of I guess 2015. And it came down last summer. So it was up -- I kept it up through the whole year.

GLENN: Yeah, good.

STU: And it lasted until they just started (?) they physically didn't work anymore.

GLENN: Yeah, you're a class act all the way.

STU: That's me.

GLENN: So I went and I got a new tree. You know, we've done fake trees forever. We went out and cut our trees down this year. And brought it into the house. And so had to go get lights. Yesterday, Tania comes home from Hobby Lobby. And we bought the big Christmas bulbs, that my grandparents used to have the big Christmas bulbs.

STU: Oh, I love those.

GLENN: Yeah, so she came. And they were halogen. So he so on she came -- we put them up. We looked, that's not right.

STU: They haven't nailed the '50s to '80s Christmas lights?

GLENN: Well, they have. They've just remade them. (?) she said, but the other ones get so hot. And we were talking about it. And this is probably the wrong move. But I'm kind of willing to have the tree light on fire and just have -- just have some sort of a fire extinguisher around the tree, in case it does, for the beauty of the lights. For the memories.

How did we not all burn to death?

STU: I don't know. And, you know, people are like, oh, I got to have a natural tree. Forget it. I did it -- I did it for many, many years. And then I got an artificial tree. And, you know what, never have to worry about it.

Keep that thing year round.

GLENN: No, you didn't.

STU: Because I kept -- we kept taking the tree down. And then you put it in the box or whatever. And it gets all folded up. And then you have to come up and fluff all the branches when you put it back up. And I said we have that garage. Why don't we just put that thing up as is in the garage?

GLENN: Oh, I don't have a problem with that. In the garage?

STU: In the garage.

GLENN: I don't have a problem with this with that.

STU: I think it's smart.

GLENN: Did you see it all decorated. Everything.

I asked Tim the other day, who decorated the tree? He's like, oh, I don't know. It was decorated four years ago. We just wrap it up in bubble wrap and put it in the back. I'm like, why aren't I doing that at home.

STU: That's brilliant.

GLENN: That's exactly what should be done. You just need some sort of a place -- your tree needs to be on wheels. Your tree needs to be on wheels. And probably shouldn't be one that easily catches on fire.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

Use code BECK to save $10 on one year of BlazeTV.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.