Community Features

Family tradition finds new meaning


During the holiday season people break out decorations and lights giving their house a complete makeover. These range from a wreath on the door to elaborate light shows that people from far and wide come to see. Greg and Rachel Osterland took a house straight out of Hollywood and put it in their front yard. Modeling their house after Clark Griswold’s from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, by making a bright display of lights that draw people in from around town to see the recreation.

This is an annual event for the Osterlands. The tradition stems from a family tradition of watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every Christmas eve. 

“It got to the point where each member of the family had to recite a scene from the movie in order to get food,” said Greg Osterland.  “After growing up with this tradition, I knew that when I had a house of my own I wanted to decorate it in true Griswold fashion.”

The automotive compact helped build Uncle Eddie’s RV for the Griswold recreation. Photo courtesy of Mr. Alexander

The display uses a total of 25,000 lights, a pile of trash with the burnt chair and shredded sled, and last year they added Russ with a ball of lights and Clark lighting the display itself.

This year’s addition of cousin Eddie and his RV was put up with help from the automotive technologies at WHS.

“This year, Cousin Eddie is making his debut with an RV that the seniors in the Four City Compact’s Automotive Technologies program helped us with the makeover,” said Osterland.

The display as a whole cannot be set up in a day. In fact it takes the family more than a month to set up the homage to the movie.

“We start working on the display in early October each year, and depending on how many new additions we add, we usually finish the final touches the week of Thanksgiving,” said Osterland.

Besides the cost of the props they add each year, the LEDs keep the maintenance fee from getting to high. 

Students put the finishing touches on the RV before they brought it over to the house. Photo courtesy of Mr. Alexander

“The lights are all LED, so the electric bill only goes up about $30 a month, but can you really put a price tag on holiday spirit?” asked Osterland.

The Osterland family isn’t in it for the money anyway. They collect donations that they use to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis research.

“We collect donations for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, through the Great Strides Walk,” said Osterland. “Each May we participate in the Akron Great Strides Walk and every donation collected during the holidays goes towards our fundraising efforts for our team.”

This display is made of holiday spirit. It started with an old tradition of watching a classic Christmas movie and turned into a display that helps the community. Greg and Rachel Osterland plan to do this display as long as they are able to. Check it out at 173 Duane Lane, Wadsworth, Ohio.

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