A beloved Hawthorne man said he removed a popular “zombie house” display from in front of his home on his own after learning that some neighbors had complained, police said Monday.
"We received a few complaints regarding parking and traffic issues in the area of Mr. Rodrigues’s house," Hawthorne Police Capt. Robert King explained.
An officer and supervisor went to the Lafayette Avenue house and found no issues, King said.
"The officers advised Mr. Rodrigues of the complaints and asked him to avoid walking into the street to speak with people driving by and stopping due to safety concerns," King said.
A family member's contention that Rodrigues was forced to remove the display was wrong.
"At NO point was Mr. Rodrigues ordered or even asked to remove his display," the captain said. "This has been a fixture in town for several years and brings joy to the community."
Rodrigues confirmed this.
The Portuguese-born homeowner has been erecting his popular display beginning in mid-September for nearly 15 years, setting up more than 100 life-size zombies, ghouls, ghosts and more in self-tailored outfits outside his home.
He also lights the display at night and dresses up with other celebrants on Halloween, waving to passersby.
Spectators from throughout North Jersey and beyond have looked forward to visiting the "zombie house."
"Almost the whole year I think about Halloween," Rodrigues once told Daily Voice. "It's the best. It's about fun."
Folks were upset that the display was removed.
Supporters said they intended to gather in the Value Village parking lot on Wagaraw Road at 8 p.m. Monday and drive past Rodrigues’s house, honking horns and shouting encouragement.
“This year has been hell for all of us with the pandemic and everything like that,” wrote Ariell M. Rutzler. “We all enjoyed seeing the decorations.
“[J]ust because people like to drive past, slow down and take pictures doesn’t mean that he should have been forced to take [them] down….[T]hat was one of the few joys that we had left for this year.”
“That décor takes a lot of time & money plus him being outside for days and hours making people smile [through] all the bad we[‘]ve had this year,” Sheenamarie Ann Ragusa wrote.
“[S]omeone killed this man’s spirit for them to be taken down 6 days before [H]alloween,” she added. “[T]his man deserves the world for his selfless acts … It made him happy to make all of us happy.
“6 days before Halloween. [T]hey couldn’t just put up with it for 6 more days.”
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