Vici and Stephen Diehl would prefer a silent night to "Silent Night."

The Diehls complain that a church 500 feet from their home has been making too much of a joyful noise this holiday season, blaring Christmas carols daily from loudspeakers on its steeple.On Tuesday, a state appellate court judge ordered the Congregational Church of Antwerp to cut back.

"The sad thing is, I like listening to Christmas carols," said Vici Diehl, who told the judge that she has to take medication to stay calm while the music is playing. "But I don't like being forced to listen to anything for hours on end."

The couple, wildlife photographers who do much of their work at their home, said the music disrupted their work schedules. They complained to state police on Dec. 11 after eight hours of music.

Ordinances in Antwerp, about 90 miles north of Syracuse, prohibit loud noise between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., so the village board concluded the music did not violate the law.

View Comments

But Judge John F. Lawton limited the church to broadcasting two one-hour sessions each day, separated by at least four hours, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. until Jan. 1, said the Diehls' attorney, Robert J. Miletsky. The judge allowed two two-hour sessions on Christmas Day.

"I'm not totally happy," Vici Diehl said outside the judge's chambers, where the Diehls made a final plea Tuesday. "The ideal solution would be to turn the volume down. They could play them all day then."

Church Pastor Kenneth R. Leamon said he started playing the music this year after a church member bequeathed money for a continuous-play tape machine and loudspeakers.

"That was our objective, to make sure it wasn't turned off completely," Leamon said. "This is a fair decision, as far as I'm concerned. We are not bitter. We're just sorry it had to go this far."

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.