'The Great Christmas Light Fight': Houses so decorated they are visible from space
Now take those light-happy, statue-crazed homeowners and multiply them many times over, then pit 20 of them in competition. That's the premise of ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight," premiering Monday, Dec. 9.
Each of the five one-hour episodes, shown over three consecutive Mondays, features four families, one of which comes away a $50,000 winner.
During the last holiday season, ABC asked families who do serious decorating to send footage of their houses. For this, they have three weeks to decorate and can enlist family and friends.
One family erects a giant Ferris wheel and a ski lift in the front yard. Another family sings on the roof, albeit a flat roof.
"Ultimately it came down to a variety of spectacular Christmas lights displays," executive producer Brady Connell tells Zap2it. "We wanted people from all around the country. Some are on smaller homes, with incredibly dense lights synchronized to music as people drive by and see this show. It is a musical show. You stop and watch for 15 minutes."
Computers allow people to synchronize music to lights, creating concerts. And LED lights can be programmed to reflect different colors. Some houses are strung with as few as 5,000 lights while others may have 200,000.
"I consider many of these family members artists presenting their artistic vision to the public, and people are very inspired when they drive by," Connelly says.
Michael Moloney and Sabrina Soto, who worked on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" with Connell, judge the displays.
"I am more interested in why people do it," Connell says, "why they spend so much time and money and effort presenting their homes this way to their neighbors. Some of it is religious."
One family lives in a town near New Orleans ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
"For whatever reason, their home was spared, and they put lights on the home to provide hope for their neighbors," Connell says.