Crazy Christmas Lights   View more episodes

Aired at 06:00 PM on Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010 (12/14/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:48>> Narrator: Richmond, virginia -- state capital, silicon hub of the southeast, birthplace of the confederacy, and home of crazy christmas lights.
00:00:59Crazy christmas lights?
00:01:01For the past 20 years, something has been growing in richmond with no end in sight.
00:01:07It's invaded tasteful neighborhoods and driven innocent families to the brink of kitsch.
00:01:15>> You see lights, just excitement, you know?
00:01:18>> Narrator:..The thompss...
00:01:20>> I'm hooked on christmas.
00:01:22>> Narrator:..And the phifers.
00:01:24>> I go all out.
00:01:25It's either going to be the best or it's not worth doing.
00:01:28>> Narrator: Top contenders this season in the richmond tacky lights tour.
00:01:32These families spend countless hours and every spare dollar going big with their displays, and they insist the tacky tour is just a friendly competition.
00:01:42But is it?
00:01:43For the past 17 years, cynthia McMullen at the richmond times-dispatchhas been deciding who is tacky enough to be on coveted list of tacky tour homes.
00:01:52>> Thank you.
00:01:53All right, bye.
00:01:55You have people who actually call and get upset because they're not on the list or because they were on the recommended list and then didn't make the full list, but, you know, you have standards even when it comes to tacky lights.
00:02:08It used to be you could get away with about 10,000 lights.
00:02:10This year, our minimum is 30,000 lights.
00:02:13Lot of people have 50-, 60-, 70,000 lights.
00:02:16If you put richmond up against las vegas, bulb to bulb, wattage to wattage, circuit to circuit, we come in pretty cl >> happy holidays.
00:02:25>> Narrator: Richmond's appetite for christs lights is so huge it had to get a website.
00:02:34>> I never thought so many people would use the site.
00:02:36Last year we had about 50,000 unique visitors.
00:02:39Some homes have a lot of lights.
00:02:41Other ones have animated displays.
00:02:43I've used those ideas to create different categories, like the most likely to be seen from space or the best home for children.
00:02:51Al thompson's home probably gets me just because it's a little bit smaller lot, but just completely overloaded.
00:03:02>> This is the third year that we've been real big.
00:03:06>> Narrator: Al thompson may be but already he's the man to beat.
00:03:12>> Well, I'm 59 yearold.
00:03:13I've been married for 38 years and have no children, but I've kind of like always been a kid myself.
00:03:20I've never grown up.
00:03:22So christmas lights have ways -- I'm like a little kid when I see them, whether it be mine or anybody else's.
00:03:28If I go by a house that has candles in the window, I'm excited about that.
00:03:32The star overall is 12 foot tall.
00:03:35This part right here, this is the bottom tail.
00:03:39Now, the star's actually made in three pieces, and the top part is is split right here, and that's already put together here.
00:03:49>> Narrator: Whatever al's hobby, wife, esther, is always part of the team.
00:03:53>> Can you give it to me?
00:03:57>> Most of this time, I'm just helping him tie things, holding the ladder.
00:04:01That's my job -- holding the ladder.
00:04:04>> Narrator: Al's neighbor emile lends a hand with the roof work.
00:04:08>> I'd been hearing the sound of hammers and saws for about l was building and hollered over and asked him.
00:04:17He this is april or may.
00:04:23>> All right, I'll come around and tie it off.
00:04:28>> Narrator: 43% Of holiday accidents are falls from ladders.
00:04:32That's the kind of statistic that spooks a guy like al, who has a fear of heights.
00:04:36>> We've been doing it, and we've had no problems, but, yeah, we're aware that's dangerous up there.
00:04:44How's that?
00:04:46That it?
00:04:47>> Yeah, that's better.
00:04:48>> Okay.
00:04:51That's a knot, I call it a " when I used to work for a moving company when I was real young, that's how we would tie down furniture, equipment, or whatever on the truck.
00:05:02>> Narrator: Al always starts with the roof, then moves on to his ground elements.
00:05:08>> It's good.
00:05:09>> Really?
00:05:09>> Yeah.
00:05:10One of the things that I wanted to do when I went big two years ago was do it a little different.
00:05:17And once I started to design and create and build, the juices really so flow then.
00:05:24All this here on the deck is new -- either store-bought items or items I built.
00:05:31Everything is about the lights.
00:05:34It's not really much about how it's painted or anything.
00:05:39I would have made all these black, except they're gonna be right up in front of the house at the street.
00:05:45So during the day, instead of having black lollipops, I went ahead and painted these.
00:05:50See, there's a plywood board.
00:05:52A light goes through and comes out the other side.
00:05:55There it is right there.
00:05:57190 Lights.
00:05:59I got it written down right there.
00:06:01Every piece that I build has how many lights on it, so when I'm putting it all together, I know how many lights I put up.
00:06:07The total lights here is 170,166.
00:06:13Yes, I am obsessive and compulsive.
00:06:16Yes, I am.
00:06:17>> My husband is an artist.
00:06:19He's the one who draws them all out, and then we paint them.
00:06:22>> You know what you can do?
00:06:23I can probably -- if you want to go up with it like that.
00:06:26What do you think?
00:06:28One of the things that I do is that I bundle up lights.
00:06:32Right here you can see there is three cords.
00:06:35And I use the pipe cleaner to tie it.
00:06:38And if you look at these lights, these are just regular christmas lights that stay on constantly.
00:06:45This is a chaser that flashes.
00:06:48So what you got is solid lights going up with flashing in between.
00:06:52So it's making it twinkle, and it makes it pop better.
00:06:56>> As a psychologist, I think there are multiple reasons why people get so hooked into the christmas celebration.
00:07:02The decorations is only one part of that, but that can be a really big one.
00:07:06For some people, it is the symbol of their childhood, in terms of having had really luscious experiences, and they want to preserve that and keep that alive.
00:07:15>> One of the things that I have to think about as I build everything is, how do I store it?
00:07:21The reason this is in two pieces is because if this was all one piece, it would be hard to store it in the house.
00:07:29So that's nativity, and this goes front and center in the yard.
00:07:33I've got about 90,000 lights up so far.
00:07:37So, we got to finish everything the next about three weeks.
00:07:42I got it.
00:07:43I got it.
00:07:43>> It just wears me out thinking about everything that's done.
00:07:47It is really amazing.
00:07:49>> Narrator: Al thompson's house raises the bar in the tacky lights tour.
00:07:52>> Lights.
00:07:53Can't have enough lights.
00:07:54>> But the phifers and the hudgins are up for the challenge.
00:07:57Find out how they take their wattage even higher, when we " now it's time for a "crazy x-mas lights" factoid.
00:08:07>> IN THE 1890s, ONE OF Thomas edison's executives took home a bunch colored electric light bulbs and hung them on his tree, and the neighbors noticed, and the local newspaper noticed.
00:08:19Edison, being a shrewd gentleman, started manufacturing and selling these lights.
00:09:11] dhcloths?
00:09:13They just push the mess around.
00:09:13So try bounty extra soft.
00:09:20Super clean.
00:09:22Super soft.
00:09:23Bounty extra soft.
00:09:24In the pink pack.
00:10:22 christmas on christmas house radio.
00:10:24Just two weeks to light-up.
00:10:26How many lights have you got on your house?
00:10:28>> Narrator: One of the longest continual displays in richmond belongs to the phifer family.
00:10:38They have been decorating their home for over 30 years.
00:10:41Bobby found his first box of bulbs when he was 12, and now his children are part of the tradition.
00:10:48>> Sometimes doing this, I do feel like a kid 'cause you sort of think on a kid's level because I'm doing this for children.
00:10:54So you got to drop back to 3, 4, 5 years old, maybe 8 years old and come up with what they want to see.
00:11:02When I was 8 or 9, I found my first string of christmas lights in the shed.
00:11:05My father, earl, who recently passed away, said do what I want with them.
00:11:08So I did the door and window when it went on.
00:11:11My mother, because she loved it, he let us do it, and I think that's what he enjoyed is having her to have a month of sort of being the queen of richmond where everybody knew who rose phifer was and her lighted house.
00:11:24>> We nominate you queen of christmas.
00:11:29>> Narrator: The entire phifer clan pitches in every year.
00:11:32>> We're gonna put the candy canes in the yard and put the candy canes around the flower bed.
00:11:38Move your hoof.
00:11:39Move your hoof.
00:11:41 when you get people come up to the door halloween, kids going, "trick or treat, oh, you already std putting your lights up, " you know, here it is, halloween, and we have christmas uff up, and the kids expect it.
00:11:54>> Dad, what do I do now?
00:11:56>> The truth is, as human beings, we always have a little bit of a selfish motive.
00:12:00There's always something in it for us, too.
00:12:03So around christmastime, you can see ults walking around, and they're usually saying, "oh, we do this grand thing for the " well, that's probably true in part, but there is usually a little bit that we're trying to discover and explore and experience for ourselves as well.
00:12:20>> Narrator: Chuck hudgins and his wife have been creating their christmas fantasyland for the past 10 years.
00:12:31>> I normally get started on my displays the first weekend of october.
00:12:37Takes me about a good six to eight weeks.
00:12:39>> What I need for y'all to do is go around back and get the wagon and don't throw too many on it, but throw a few, and just put them in the yard.
00:12:48We're gonna have to decide later where we're gonna put them.
00:12:50>> Narrator: Blow molds play a large part in the hudgins' display.
00:12:54Light plastic and lit from within, the smurfs, frosties, and candy canes are a big hit with the kids.
00:13:02>> We're gonna do it, we're gonna do it right, we're gonna do it big, we're gonna overdo.
00:13:06>> Narrator: Their daughter leah does the ground lights.
00:13:09>> I think we have 50 of these we have to do.
00:13:13They are out here every weekend for the whole weekend since the beginning of october until through christmas doing all this work.
00:13:20So it's just azing what they do.
00:13:24Chuck is the captain of the ship.
00:13:26And we just all kind of joined in.
00:13:34>> Narrator: The only person safe on a roof in december is santa.
00:13:384 Out of every 10 holiday accidents happen on top of a house.
00:13:43Bobby, chuck, and al's houses may look normal, but on closer inspection, they are fitted for going big.
00:13:51>> As far as my electrical, this was the original panel box.
00:13:55I had a few circuits in here where I had going out to the yard a couple things.
00:14:02So that's when I had my electrician come in, and he wired a whole new section up.
00:14:06So that's nothing but christmas lights all up in there.
00:14:10I have got a total of a 13 circuits for the christmas lights.
00:14:16There's one right here, it's hidden.
00:14:18I've got another one on the side of the porch right there, two on each side of this tree.
00:14:26I've got them along the fence in the back around the house.
00:14:29Under my porch, I've got four more.
00:14:31One, two, three.
00:14:32I still got three.
00:14:33I can still add six more circuits in there if I wanted to.
00:14:36>> The electrical upgrade this year has cost close to $1,500 to $1,600.
00:14:40>> $4,000.
00:14:42Everything was put in by electricians.
00:14:44Last year, I think I was drawing over 200 amps at 155,000 lights.
00:14:51>> 155,000?
00:14:53>> Yeah.
00:14:54>> This year I probably -- i built 30 new item this is year.
00:14:57>> Right.
00:14:58>> The main thing about the fuses and the plugs is you don't want to put more than three cords of light.
00:15:04Cord light's generally 100 lights, so you don't want to put more than 300 together end to end because that will pop that little fuse.
00:15:11>> If you hook more than three together, you'll blow the fuse on them, so get creative like i did years ago and start putting them in there.
00:15:19You get some galvanized nails, pop out the fuses, cut them, and pop them in there, and you hook all you want up to them.
00:15:25A lot of people come over here and think I'm an electrician, and I'm not.
00:15:28It's just one of those things i sort of got out there and learned and did.
00:15:31Been shocked a few times.
00:15:33120 Doesn't rt.
00:15:34Gives you a little tingle.
00:15:36[ Chuckling ] >> I used to have a full head of hair till I started dealing with electrical.
00:15:42Now, you see what happens?
00:15:43Get an electrician.
00:15:44>> Now, we get all the decorations up, we go to the breaker box, and we've got probably 10 breakers that we turn on -- click, click, cli, click -- and it's on.
00:15:56It's something to see.
00:16:00>> Narrator: Going big isn't cheap.
00:16:03>> As far as the cost, the electric might run -- I think my wife said it might run $200 to $300 more.
00:16:10>> The electric last year was about $550.
00:16:13>> Last year's electric bill jumped almost $850 just for december on top of the regular bill.
00:16:20That's not counting in november when you're out there putting stuff up, which went about another $200.
00:16:25So it's gonna be a pretty scary bill to open end of january.
00:16:30>> Narrator: Most people use a step stool to put a star on their christmas tree.
00:16:34Find out why bobby phifer needs a cherry p " l now it's time for a "crazy christmas lights" factoid.
00:16:45>> Only after world war ii when you had universal electricification all over the united states and the price of generating power and the price of light-bulb strands went down, that's when it became a really big phenomenon.
00:18:32It's that time of year.
00:18:33Time for campbell's green bean casserole.
00:18:35You'll find the recipeat
00:18:39™™ >> Narrator: One week before the tacky tour.
00:20:20Time for last-minute tweaks and bulb checks.
00:20:24>> It's a race to do this.
00:20:25If we had three weekends of rain, I don't know what we'd do.
00:20:28U get rained out on one weekend, you have to make it up the next week in the weekdays.
00:20:33I've been out here with kidney stones.
00:20:35You're not allowed to get sick for three months while decorating this.
00:20:39>> Narrator: For bobby phifer, who leaves up the 60,000 lights on his big tree all year 'round, that means getting out the cherry bobby's 60-foot tree of light isn't the only christmas tree in the phifer display.
00:21:03>> This tree is made out of traffic-signal heads I took apart and made inta frame.
00:21:09It's a hit.
00:21:09The kids love it, and it's different, you know?
00:21:14lights to make something christmasy.
00:21:25We never light them up during the year at all 'cause it gets depressing, and you see how much squirrels eat them up.
00:21:30You end up with stuff like this.
00:21:32The squirrels chew them off as acorns.
00:21:34You walk around the yard and pick up several hundred of these, which each one is a string of lights you have to replace.
00:21:40We probably have up in the att just extras and spares.
00:21:44Probably another 300,000 or 400,000.
00:21:50rator: WHEN YOU GO BIG, What else can go wrong?
00:21:53You name it.
00:21:54>> Vandalism is a problem in richmond.
00:21:58>> Every year we have concrete animals disappear out there.
00:22:01They'll do $3,000 or $4,000 of damage in one night quick.
00:22:04Last year, we had a concrete deer that weighed about 250 pounds disappear.
00:22:08Donkeys have disappeared.
00:22:10We had a 350-pound giraffe that someone walked off with on a 00, and nobody seen it.
00:22:17>> I had an igloo stolen.
00:22:22and, I mean, there's no way, first of all, that one person can carry it.
00:22:28And I sat outside in my car with my uniform and weapon waiting.
00:22:37>> One of the things that I've done to try and prevent some of that is I have fenced my yard and made it in a way that it's not just easy to walk into.
00:22:49The other things that can really hurt is wind.
00:22:52This has been the windiest conditions that I've had in three or four years.
00:22:57And we had some casualties.
00:22:58Some trees went down.
00:23:00One of them toppled all the way over.
00:23:02I had them braced in here with just this -- a rebar inside of this pvc pipe here with the tree tied to it and braced and so on, BUT NOW I'VE GOT A 2"x2" IN The winds were so strong coming through here that it blew the tree over and actually bent this rebar stake.
00:23:18That shows you how strong the winds were here.
00:23:22>> The wind can be a big factor.
00:23:24First year I decided to put reindeer on a roof, and I was using tie straps, and it was a few weeks before christmas.
00:23:32We had a good wind storm come in, in the middle of the night, and all of a sudden I heard thunka-thunka-thunka-thunka.
00:23:37I turned to why wife and said, " >> ho ho ho ho ho!
00:23:41>> And what it was, the tie straps didn't hold, and rudolph is leaving up in the air, so when it took rudolph, him and the rest of the house like a hunter had come out and had himself a heyday.
00:23:54Wind storms, huge electric bills, grinch squirrels?
00:23:59What makes them do it?
00:24:01>> My mother lives for this house being decorated.
00:24:04I mean, this is an all-year , she's out looking for little pictures to get drawn and made.
00:24:10She literally lives for this.
00:24:12>> I love it very much.
00:24:14It's the highlight of the year is christmas.
00:24:17>> Is it worth decorating?
00:24:19Most of the time, yes, sometimes, no.
00:24:21I got four months out of my life that's dedicated to this, $3,000 to $4,000 a year to do this.
00:24:28All our extra money goes to this, ou we don't take vacations.
00:24:31We don't do anything.
00:24:38>> And she's out there every night that the house is lit.
00:24:41>> Since my father passed away, this is her pride and joy.
00:24:46I'm gonna keep doing this for my mom and for my father.
00:24:50>> Why do I it?
00:24:52Mainly I think I do it for kids.
00:24:54Seeing their eyes light up, watching the people.
00:24:57Young and old -- we get people from 6 to 60, and it's the a better feeling inside when you got people coming up, saying how much they love the lights, how much they enjoy it.
00:25:07It's a warm feeling inside.
00:25:09It's just something I just love doing.
00:25:11>> He's just a wonderful man.
00:25:14>> It's a wonderful life.
00:25:16>> [ Chuckling ] >> Narrator: Bobby phifer may do it for his mom, and chuck hudgins may be doing it for the kids, but extreme hobbyist al thompson does it because he can.
00:25:29>> Every hobby that I've ever had, I have gone to the 110%.
00:25:35I got hooked on white-water canoeing years ago.
00:25:38So I can't just paddle down some little streams.
00:25:42I've got to go over 20- and 30-foot waterfalls in an open canoe, and it's just to the extreme.
00:25:49If I'm gonna do christmas lights, I got to do it right.
00:25:53>> Narrator: Al thompson and chuck hudgins go way back.
00:25:56And chuck never misses a chance to check out al's latest designs.
00:26:01>> All right, christmas decorations.
00:26:04And this is where I keep myself organized, using this book here.
00:26:08The whole yard is laid out on paper, exactly where every piece goes, so when I walk out the front door, I know exactly where I've to go with it.
00:26:18>> I love the book.
00:26:20I mean, he's organized.
00:26:21I've been doing it for 10 years.
00:26:24You saw my house.
00:26:24I got a scrap little piece of paper.
00:26:28is to keep everything sharp, neat, and not just like it's been thrown out there.
00:26:36>> Ts is unbelievable.
00:26:39I don't know how to describe it.
00:26:40It just amazes me.
00:26:42Oh, it's beautiful.
00:26:47>> Mr. christmas here again.
00:26:48Just one week to light up.
00:26:50To check those bulbs.
00:26:53>> Narrator: Hop in a limo with christmas next on " now it's time for a crazy christmas lights factoid.
00:27:04>> There are all kinds of different versions of how lights are arranged.
00:27:08Sometimes they are arranged in what's called swags, when they are hanging in curve there are also nets.
00:27:16There are icicle lights, chasingropes.
00:27:19There are as many ways to do it as you could want.
00:27:21Get an electrician.
00:27:23It saves a lot of trouble.
00:28:13ofthe give is joy.
00:28:16And giving it to thoseless fortunate this year is simple.
00:28:20JCPenney and the Salvation Army have come togetherto fulfill Christmas wishes for tens of thousands of underprivileged kidsand seniors.
00:28:29But we c't do it alone.
00:28:31Join us at to choose your angel.
00:28:35We'll ship your gift to themfor free.
00:28:37They need many things.
00:28:38But most importantly,they need you.
00:28:43["Stir it up" playing] stir up a smilewith hershey's syrup.
00:29:13] today?
00:29:13[ Alien Head 1 ] He had a fever last night.
00:29:14[ Robotasaurus ] His mom gave him New Triaminic Fever Reducer Syrup.
00:29:16It's a safe and effective way to help bring down a fever.
00:29:19[ Alien Head 1 ] How do you know?
00:29:20[ Robotasaurus ] I get wifi.
00:29:21[ Female Announcer ] With the #1 doctor recommended ingredient to help bring downchildren's fever...
00:29:25Trust in Triaminic.
00:29:43>> TODAY IS DECEMBER 1st.
00:29:44In richmond, today is when the limos start to roll on the tacky light tour.
00:29:49It really starts to pick up tonight.
00:29:51>> Narrator: The blow molds are out, the tree is checked, and all the lights are bundled.
00:29:57Gentlemen, man your breakers.
00:29:59It's time to light up.
00:30:03>> My lights are there for me to enjoy and enjoy the overall hobby of doing it and for everyone else to enjoy.
00:30:15>> When I'm scratching up my knuckles or trying to get underneath the shingles or feel like you're about to fall off the roof, I said, "man, is this " but when it lights up, yeah, it's well worth it.
00:30:27>> Decorating for my mom this year was, I think, the best thing we've done.
00:30:32This was highlight of her night is lighting the house up.
00:30:35This is the one thing she looked forward to.
00:30:37Without having my father, earl, around, it's a bright spot in her holiday.
00:30:44>> Welcome, all you folks, on the tacky lights tour.
00:30:47 christmas, and you're listening to christmas house radio, fm 107.7 stereo.
00:30:53>> Narrator: christmas never wants to be mistaken for santa claus.
00:30:57>> Merry christmas.
00:30:59>> Narrator: So he prefers to handicap the tour in the comfort of a limo instead of a sleigh.
00:31:06>> This is downtown richmond, christmas.
00:31:11And here we are at the james center.
00:31:14This is what we call the nonresidential part of the tacky tour.
00:31:17It still has that warm fuzzy.
00:31:20You'll notice that the building is outlined in lights and, of course, the deer.
00:31:23Every year they add more deer to this.
00:31:26Kind of a little bit of an oasis in the middle of a concrete city.
00:31:32I believe that we're going to shelby lane right now.
00:31:34Well, this is one I haven't seen this year, so it'll be interesting to see it and see how it's turned out.
00:31:38That's gorgeous.
00:31:40I think that I especially like the strobes.
00:31:43Every year there are more and more people that are jumping on the bandwagon on the tacky tour, and they're starting to decorate their houses in big ways here in richmond.
00:31:54Isn't that heaven?
00:31:55I think he needs a couple more ..
00:31:59Hey, guys, where we going next?
00:32:01We're going to the phifers'?
00:32:03Look out the window now and you'll see the tree.
00:32:05They have always done an excellent job.
00:32:09Talk about a house that you can see from outer space.
00:32:12It's definitely theirs.
00:32:14>> Narrator:hristmas arrives at the phifers' on ry court.
00:32:23>> There are some nice qualities about this.
00:32:26The brightest, the biggest thing is that tree.
00:32:29>> I like the tree.
00:32:30How you doing?
00:32:31>> Good. how are you?
00:32:33>> I'm pretty good.
00:32:34>> Good.
00:32:34>> Got yours lit uyet?
00:32:36>> Tonight.
00:32:36I just hit the switches tonight on it, yeah.
00:32:39>> Got a superheavy flow of traffic out here already.
00:32:42It's heavier -- every year it gets busier and busier.
00:32:45>> It gets crazy out here.
00:32:46[ Chuckles ] >> look at this -- as far as you can see.
00:32:50>> [ Laughing ] WOW.
00:32:51>> Whoa!
00:32:54>> We saw it from the street.
00:32:56" >> none of this was around 20 years ago.
00:33:03What's happening is what i wanted to happen.
00:33:05I wanted to encourage more people to do this because it makes them feel good.
00:33:12>> It's hard to say who has the biggest display, and it's also slightly dangerous to say who has the biggest display just because there that is competition -- however friendly, there is that competition.
00:33:22>> I wouldn't really call it a competition.
00:33:24It's not cutthroat.
00:33:26>> Narrator: Next stop the hudgins on little sorrel drive.
00:33:30>> I like the santa's workshop.
00:33:32And I like the animals over here that are dancing and singing.
00:33:36The carousel just blows me away.
00:33:38And I also like the fact that he's got the santa's sleigh and reindeer going across to the neighbor's house.
00:33:44I think that's great, yes, to get them up in the air like that.
00:33:49>> The best part of it?
00:33:50Watching kids come up, seeing the lights.
00:33:53I don't care if you're 6 or 60, people come back, and they say, "i've got to bring my friends " >> it's a lot of fun.
00:34:03It's kind of like a show that you do every year, and you want to give the public something different.
00:34:08>> Narrator: And last but not least, al thompson's home on wendhurst drive.
00:34:13>> Very nice.
00:34:17I think it's absolutely magnificent.
00:34:20A lot of work went into this.
00:34:22And he's got a theme to it.
00:34:24This is beautiful.
00:34:27>> I talked to thousands of people during the christmasth season, and the christmas spirit that they bring to my house is just really -- it's overwhelming to me.
00:34:37>> I'm glad for the tour.
00:34:38>> Yeah, come on in.
00:34:39You see those people -- they're are happy, they're cheerful, they're full of spirit, they're families with the two or three kids, and their eyes are just as big as you can imagine, you know?
00:34:50And they're running up and down, going, "look, mommy!
00:34:52" I took notes at your house.
00:34:54So anything I could steal from you, I did.
00:34:56>> Well, I'm flattered.
00:34:58>> I always say I don't mind stealing anything from any >> I'm taking notes right now.
00:35:02You know that, don't you?
00:35:06Al, thank you.
00:35:06>>Wow, frank, I appreciate that.
00:35:08>> Merry christmas.
00:35:09You're welcome you know, I don't know who's gonna win, but I do love al's clean lines.
00:35:17Even if you don't enjoy christmas lights, it's the artistry and it's the innova it.
00:35:26So, are they tacky?
00:35:27No, I don't believe they're tacky.
00:35:29I think they're artistic.
00:35:35>> Narrator: Who will win the tacky lights tour?
00:35:37Chuck hudgins with his reindeer on the roof?
00:35:41Al thompson with his triple strands of twinkle lights and chasers?
00:35:45Or bobby phifer with his 60-foot landmark tree of light?
00:35:49Find out when we return to " now it's time for a crazy christmas lights factoid.
00:35:58>> Christmas lighting are a straight-out expression of what people really are and what they love.
00:36:03There are people in farm country who will light up a tractor.
00:36:06I've seen people light up cars, bicycles, clothing.
00:36:09It is everybody's own self-expression, and they light up whatever they like.
00:36:47pair ♪♪
00:36:49♪♪ you got a brand-new key ♪♪
00:36:52♪♪ I think that we should get together ♪♪
00:36:55♪♪ and try them out, you see ♪♪
00:36:57♪♪ I've been looking around a while ♪♪
00:37:00♪♪ you got something for me ♪♪
00:37:03.. ♪♪
00:37:04[ Male Announcer ] Now you can send photos straight to your printer from any mobile device.
00:37:09Now let's send one to aunt susan.
00:37:11[ Male Announcer ] INTRODUCING The new web-connected printers with eprint from hp.
00:37:16Here, take the card.
00:37:18.. I'll meet you at the gate.
00:37:20Please remove all our pockets.
00:37:22With chase freedom you can get a total of 5% cash back.
00:37:28Fun money from freedom.
00:37:29That's 5% cash back in quarterly categories and an unlimited 1% cash back everywhere else.
00:37:36And this too. does your card do this?
00:37:37I'm going to need a supervisor over here at gate 4.
00:37:40Sign up for this quarter's bonus today.
00:37:42Chase what matters.
00:37:43Go to
00:38:01Funny how nature justknows hoto make things that are good for you.
00:38:06New v8 v-fusion + tea.
00:38:08One combined servingof vegetables and fruit with the goodnessof green tea and powerful antioxidants.
00:38:14Refreshingly good.
00:38:44@ @F@&@@@ all season, but only one house can win the tacky lights trophy.
00:40:19Will it be the hudgins, the thompsons, or the phifers?
00:40:25There are favorite categories on website but only one overall winner.
00:40:29The house that got the most VOTES ON THE tackylighttour.
00:40:32Was the house you could see from space -- bobby phifer's >> congratulations, phifer family.
00:40:42Matt burgess presents the family with their trophy.
00:40:46>> Based on votes casted at, YOUR HOME Was voted as the best home on richmond's tacky light tour.
00:40:52Here you go.
00:40:54>> Thank you.
00:40:55>> Way to go.
00:40:58>> Being presented with this award is awesome.
00:41:00I mean, this is just the perfect year to get with the death of my >> congratulations.
00:41:07>> You did a lot of hard work.
00:41:09>> Thank you, sir.
00:41:10>> Winning this award is great.
00:41:12We've been waiting a lonme for it 'cause I think my son has put a lot of work, a lot of heart into it.
00:41:18I think it's just wonderful.
00:41:20>> Should I start taking them down [ laughter ] arrator: AFTER THE GLORY Comes the teardown and storage -- no small feat when >> our plan for today is to take two months worth of work that we six to nine hours.
00:41:44Right now it's about 9:00.
00:41:4630-ish we'll be 95% down and packed away and finished.
00:41:55>> My favorite part?
00:41:56Taking it down.
00:41:57>> [ Laughing ] it down.
00:42:02>> She almost cries every year when we take it down.
00:42:04>> One night it's all up.
00:42:05The next night, you go out, and it's completely dark.
00:42:09>> Everyone's gonna sort of be assigned a task to do.
00:42:12I'm gonna have my son ryan mainly on the house, taking down the house stuff, the higher-up the li gonna be taking the blow molds and characters and candy canes and take them around the back and start putting them away.
00:42:27My wife is in charge of storage and stacking.
00:42:42Looks good till next year.ore it all?
00:42:50>> Storage is the thing that's going to put a cap o at 'cause I'm about 90% of my storage.
00:42:57The upper attic is where most of the pieces go, although some of them go under the bed.them go in the closet.
00:43:04And my downstairs bathtub, which f christmas.
00:43:13unit, it looks like an apartment complex.
00:43:15It started out as one shed.
00:43:17I started running out of space here, so what I had to do is add ANOTHER 8'x16' SPACE IN HERE.
00:43:24This is loaded down.
00:43:26That's when this came into play.
00:43:30I'm running out of room.
00:43:31[ Chuckling ] >> that's easy.
00:43:33It's in a shoebox under my bed.
00:43:39Rit of christmas, and that's what it's all about.
00:43:41This is the time that we should look at ha about our troubles and the other troubles of the world, and forto be happy.
00:43:52I wish it could be christmas all year 'round.
00:43:55>> Narrator: Whether you deck THE HALLS WITH OF C7s OR Spray the night sky with robotic bubbles, christmas lights bring out the kid in all of us and make the season special.
00:44:07 christmas, wishing for you and yours the warmest and the brig ever.
00:44:13Good night.
00:44:15>> Narrator: Thanks for tuning in.
00:44:17Happy holidays, and join us next year for more crazy christmas lights.
00:44:22--Captions by Captions paid for bydiscovery communications, inc.
00:44:33>> My dad decorates with er, I shoot them.
00:44:35>> Would you shoot rudolph?
00:44:37>> Would i?
00:44:37Yeah, I'd probably shooth.
00:44:39>> He would.
00:44:40Put horns on me, he'd shoot me, too.
00:44:42>> [ Chuckling ] >> depends on the size of the rack.
00:44:46Reindeer's up.
00:44:48Place where I didn't have a tree stand sitting.
00:44:51>> Go! go, go go!
00:44:58Christmas decorating has gone extreme.
00:45:04Tonight, five light wizards create one-of-a-kind christmas displays that amaze and ..
00:45:09>> I just want to try and give it that rock-concert type feel.
00:45:12>> Narrator:..And dazzle the senses.
00:45:14The displays take endless ..
00:45:16>> It usually takes us three months or more.
00:45:18>> Narrator:..And just a >> obsession.
00:45:20>> Obsession.
00:45:21>> Oh, it's an obsession.
00:45:22>> This light box took me about nth to put together.
00:45:25>> Over $100,000.
00:45:26>> 6.2 Miles of extension cords.
00:45:28>> Narrator: When the ligh come on, whose will burn the brightest and who will blow a fuse?
00:45:33[ Electricity crackling ] ..
00:45:35--Captns by Captions paid for bydiscovery communications [ pittsburgh, pennsylvania, the home of the champions like the steelers, the pirates, the penguins, and of course, the cox family.
00:45:51>> We love to take christmas decorating to the extreme.
00:45:54[ Rock version of "amazing grace" plays ] >> Narrator: Bob cox is crazy for christmas and house with a staggering 260,000 " >> we spend thousands and thousands of dollars, probably upwards of $25,000, $30,000 on the display.
00:46:13We just want to try and give it that rock-concert type feel.
00:46:16I believe that we do have one of the best christmas-l displays in america.
00:46:25>> Narrator: No wonder it takes bob so long to set up --five months, five hours a day, seven days a week.
00:46:32>> A few years ago, this turned from a christmas hobby into a christmas obsession.
00:46:35It wouldn't be odd at all if you 00, 00 in the morning, and I'm hanging lights.
00:46:39Good. the tree works.
00:46:41>> What makes it more of an obsession is this goes on all year long.
00:46:45This isn't just around the holidays.
00:46:47We have to design everything all year.
00:46:49He's constantly looking for more decorations all year long.
00:46:52>> Narrator: There are even more signs your christmas-light hobby might be obsessive -- if al gore mentions your house specifically in a speech on global warming, if the power company gives you your own high-voltage transformer, or if decorating requires you to rent a cherry picker to set up your two 30-foot tall megatrees.
00:47:15>> After bob got into the basket of the scissor lift, he had to tie the pole and he had to stand it straight up, and me and the other children had to slip it into a sleeve and made it stand up.
00:47:27>> All right. we are in.
00:47:29>> Yay!
00:47:29>> Narrator: And the neighborhood kids?
00:47:31, Helping bob set up the display has become a yearly tradition.
00:47:35>> All: Merry christmas!
00:47:38>> Narrator: But not everyone loves the lights.
00:47:41[ Siren wailing ] they have at least one neighbor who wants to see the light off permanently.
00:47:46>> We had a little drama hereli this morning.
00:47:48The local police stopped by.
00:47:50>> Thanks, officer.
00:47:50>> Thank you.
00:47:51>> Thank you.
00:47:52>> See you at christmastime.
00:47:56>> No.
00:47:57>> Yeah.
00:47:59>> Narrator: With just four weeks till the lights get turned on and 100,000 more lights to hang, bob's feeling the pressure.
00:48:06>> Worn-out, exhausted, cranky -- you name it.
00:48:09Been putting in some long nights.
00:48:11>> Narrator: And no wonder raquel is worried, too.
00:48:13The family is behind schedule, and the cops might shut down the whole thing.
00:48:18>> I hope that this doesn't turn into a train wreck.
00:48:21'S something I'm not looking forward to happening.
00:48:23>> Narrator: While bob and raquel deck the house, we head to anaheim, california.
00:48:29[ Choir vocalizing ] meet the martins.
00:48:33Unlike our experts, they've never set up a christmas display.
00:48:37hem $2,500 worth of lights, gave them seven weeks to decorate their house, and begged them to please not ruin everyone's christmas.
00:48:50>> Hello, I'm paul-dean.
00:48:52[ Laughing ] I AM GOING TO BE Able to pull this off -- no problem, no sweat.
00:48:56This house is gonna be, you know, lit more than a drunk on new year's eve.
00:49:01>> Paul-dean often bites off more than he can chew -- grandiose ideas, and I worry that he might not be able too it all.
00:49:09>> Well, the plan is this -- it's to take our plain old house and turn it into a giant christmas-light specr, to string lights really close together, side by side, and go tile roof, so that the whole roof becomes one giant light display.
00:49:25>> Narrator: To illustrate his lighting plan, paul-dean built this model of his house, finishing mi seriously.
00:49:31>> Paul-dean really doesn't know what a schedul he procrastinates.
00:49:35I know he doesn't think that he does, but he does.
00:49:38He till the last minute.
00:49:39>> Narrator: To put even more pressure on the martins, for the night of the big reveal, we asked them to invite all their friends.
00:49:45That way, if it's a huge flop, they'll laugh, laugh, laugh.
00:49:48>> What I hope for is people standing here.
00:49:51And they're waiting.
00:49:52You know, they just had food, you know?
00:49:53"Oh, the food was good.
00:49:54Oh, paul-dean -- he'll come " and then it comes on, and they ..
00:49:57[ Gasps ] [ vocalizing ] that's, you know, what we expect.
00:50:04I don't want to see, "oh, gosh, paul-dean's gonna do this great show.
00:50:07" " >> "really, that was it?
00:50:10That was the light -- okay, great.
00:50:12" >> Narrator: We'll check back with the martins in a bit.
00:50:20Back in pittsburgh, here's what happened at the cox household while we were gone -- 90,000 more lights hung, one more visit from the cops, and one trip to the e.r.
00:50:31>> I had an unfortunate accident with a utility knife, almost cut off the entire tip of my finger.
00:50:37>> Narrator: Good news -- bob's fine, but he has more to do, and the reveal is in just two days.
00:50:42>> It's been tons of work.
00:50:44Me and my wife have been out here every night, working our fingers to the bone, just trying to make everything ready and give everybody a great show.
00:50:58>> Bob's been a little stressed out lately.
00:51:00There was an arch that was not working.
00:51:03He threw that one off the roof.
00:51:04Then he had to redo the whole thing.
00:51:06And now he has the arch back up on the roof, but if you notice, it's a different color from the other one.
00:51:12>> Narrator: As the clock ticked down, there was still lots more work to still be done -- untangle and hang the last ..couple strobe lights left I got to get hooked in.
00:51:21>> Narrator:..Replace ..
00:51:23>> We have extension cords running everywhere, and it's very easy for either me or my wife or one of the little kids to trip.
00:51:31>> Narrator:..Set up t ..
00:51:34And straighten the cords and cleahe yard.
00:51:36>> It's been a very long project, and it's nearing its completion.
00:51:40And just seeg everything finally come together -- it's gonna be great.
00:51:48>> All right, here you go.
00:51:50>> Narrator: And then it was the day of the big light-show reveal.
00:51:54100 Hungry a thirsty friends were expected.
00:51:56>> My excitement right now -- it's sky-high.
00:51:59I'm just pumped so everybody can finally see what we've got done.
00:52:03>> Narrator: Then, with 260,00 lights now hung in record time and friends and family