The Neat Retreat: Griswold Family Christmas

Suzanne Oliver
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Courtesy of Tyler Horrocks

Image: Tyler Horrocks/Coventry, RI

Bethany: “Is your house on fire, Clark?”

Clark: “No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.”

—from 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Clark Griswold hung 250 strands of lights totaling 25,000 twinkling bulbs in the Christmas movie classic, but that’s nothing compared to some of our customers.

Picture, if you can, 67,151 lights. That’s how many Tyler Horrocks single-handedly hung this year for his “Spectacle of Dancing Light” in Coventry, R.I. Dubbed “The Crazy Christmas House,” Horrocks’ address even has its own Facebook page with more than 550 likes to date.

At the end of August, the college student started hauling bundles of lights and a Grinch cutout from his parents’ home. What started in 2005 with 5,000 lights and 8 computerized sections has now grown to more than 67,000 lights and 72 parts synchronized to music. Using an iPod transmitter, he broadcasts 30 songs on a low-powered radio station with a range of more than 500 feet. He says it takes him up to 20 hours to synchronize the lights to a single song.

And the power bill? Well, that accounts for an additional $500 to $600. So why welcome the added expense, all the manual labor and weekend traffic jams? “Hopefully it makes everyone feel all warm and fuzzy inside,” Horrocks says.

Last year, 85 people showed up for the inaugural lighting, anxiously awaiting the sparkling show. They also generously donated to a charity of Horrocks’ choosing. This year, the inaugural lighting took place on Saturday, Nov. 24, and the spotlighted charity was the Make a Wish Foundation.

Show Hours: Every night through Christmas: 4:30-11 p.m.; Christmas Eve: 4:30-6 a.m.; Christmas: 4:30 p.m.-12 a.m.

This year, Tyler Horrocks hung 67,151 lights on his Crazy Christmas House.

Image: Tyler Horrocks

Carol Gaston of Roswell, Ga. also decorates to the nines. Every year, her neighbors in Roswell, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, eagerly await her display of lights and classic characters. She stores an arsenal of decorations, including at least a dozen inflatables and a full nativity set, in her basement. For the last 25 years, she’s waited until after Thanksgiving to unleash her festive flurry of Santas, reindeer, snowmen, angels and even a horse-drawn sleigh.

The Gaston house in Roswell, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.

Image: Carol Gaston/Roswell, GA

Gaston got her love of Christmas from her dad. “It’s in my blood,” she says, and the townspeople are thankful for it. Gaston gets letters of gratitude in her mailbox, and people return year after year to see her handiwork. It’s totally worth the uptick in her electric bill, she says with a smile.

Featured image: Shutterstock/Hannamariah

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