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Crystal Lake bar takes down Christmas decorations after complaint to fire department

Christmas will be a little less bright next year at Goal Line Sports Bar & Grill in Crystal Lake.

For three years, employees have strung bright holiday lights, tinsel and garland around the popular downtown establishment, 85 Brink St. They would install them after Thanksgiving and remove them in February.

However, things changed this season when owner Bob Bless said Crystal Lake firefighters told him he was violating city codes and would have to take down the interior decorations early.

“People come in just because of the lights,” Bless said, adding that he’s disappointed residents won’t be able to enjoy a beer or burger surrounded by lights. “If I can’t put them up, I’ll just put more up outside.”

Bless said he believes a crabby customer complained about the lights, so the city had no choice but to respond.

“Somebody called; I know who it was. A person who was here called and complained, and [firefighters] had to come in and enforce the code,” Bless said. “They just said it has to come down.”

He said the lights take weeks to put up, and some patrons visit the bar just to bask in the glow. Bless had planned to keep the lights up through January.

“We like to make it look like Christmas,” he said, adding that some customers now are upset. “It is festive. Kids love it. Other restaurants in the area do a lot, if not more, than we do.”

On Thursday, bartenders were busy taking down the decorations. Bless said the building has a fully functioning sprinkler system and he’s never had any problems with the lights.

“They’re turned off at night,” Bless said. “We turn them on when we come in and turn them off when we leave.”

Bartender Amanda Babitsch said she is deeply disappointed.

“It’s something we all look forward to all year long,” she said in a statement. “We discuss and we plan, for 10 months, everything we want to do. Being able to create this magical atmosphere for so many people to enjoy is an honor. That’s why we put so much love into it.”

Bless said he’s not angry with the fire department and won’t decorate the inside again without its approval.

“We won’t be decorating for Halloween, either,” he said. “It is what it is. ... The code’s the code.”

Crystal Lake Fire/Rescue Chief Paul DeRaedt said the department received a call from an anonymous person who expressed concerns about the amount of decorations at Goal Line Sports Bar & Grill. DeRaedt said decorations can’t cover more than 10 percent of a specific wall or ceiling.

“You worry about the combustibility of the decorations,” DeRaedt said. “If you have that many decorations in there, then it becomes difficult for people to identify where the exits are at. ... It poses a hazard.”

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