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Oh, deer! Lawn depicts racy reindeer games

Cutouts show deer doing what deer sometimes do. Neighbors call it disgusting.

By JENNIFER FARRELL

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 30, 2000


SPRING HILL -- On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!

Those words have a whole new meaning this holiday season, thanks to Brian Long, a self-described homemaker, whose Deltona Boulevard lawn boasts a Christmas display that depicts two reindeer mating.

More naughty than nice, more Vixen than Rudolph, the white wooden cutouts have caused a stir on the busy road near its intersection with Spring Hill Drive. Facing southeast, the ornaments are clearly visible from the road, with one mounting the other from behind.

On Tuesday afternoon, drivers slowed down and peered out their windows for a better look as children on school buses stood up in their seats, laughing and pointing at the risque reindeer.

Long, 45, of 1287 Deltona Blvd., said a couple visiting from New Mexico pulled into his driveway and took pictures. His son Kevin, a junior at Springstead High, has a steady stream of visitors from school who come to snicker at the display.

For Long, the reindeer games are all in good fun.

"I call them dancing reindeer," he said, grinning. "I figured it would be a little different."

But exasperated neighbors say the pose is inappropriate and crass, and they take exception to tainting the Christmas season with sexual innuendo.

Long's next-door neighbor, Kathy Poulos, called the reindeer "disgusting."

A mother of three children between 10 and 14, she said their positioning is in poor taste and creates an uncomfortable environment, especially for parents of elementary and middle school children whose bus routes take them past the display twice a day.

"It's terrible," she said. "They've got kindergarteners that ride those buses."

Plus, Poulos said, it's embarrassing.

"I think it's a terrible display for the holiday," she said. "That's not the first thing I want to see when I come out my front door."

Hernando County officials, meanwhile, have received a number of complaints.

Code Enforcement Director Frank McDowell III said he met with county attorneys after receiving a call about the randy reindeer.

The display violates no county ordinances, he learned.

"I don't have a rule that would allow me to go out there and take enforcement action against him," McDowell said. "I would hope that the individual that owns those deer would display them in a manner that's appropriate for the Christmas holiday and not in the manner that they're displayed."

But Long is unrepentant.

"Wouldn't that be considered freedom of expression?" he asked. "I think it is."

If pushed, though, Long said he would reconsider.

"If they really come down on me hard about it, I'll take them down," he said. "Nobody's said anything to me about it."

This is the second season Long has put up the reindeer. Last year, a Hernando County sheriff's deputy stopped by the house to check on whether vandals had posed the ornaments as a prank.

"I told him I did it," Long said. "I said, "I'm not going to get in trouble for this, am I?' "

Next year, he is considering adding two more.

"They might be voyeurs," he said. "Just standing and watching."

- Times researchers Kitty Bennett and Cathy Wos contributed to this report.

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