Participating on the ABC Christmas Reality Show, Great Christmas Light Fight
It was the summer of 2013 and I remember when we got the call from an associate producer representing a potential Christmas Theme Show that was being pitched to the Networks called “Lights… Camera … Christmas”. They were interviewing potential families who not only had a Love for Christmas but also gave back to the community.
We were delighted to be a possible participant and was asked lots of questions and to also submit a video of our family and what our home looks like when not decorated. Almost immediately we received the call that we were exactly the type of Family they were looking for. It was described at that time 16 Families competing for best decorated home and then the Families would be flown to a location to be determined. Possible locations were California, Chicago and New York. We were excited about the possibility of New York and Chicago as we have never seen snow. However with young children it would be too difficult due to school and more importantly, our concern as to who would take care of the Display in our absence. As Kathy would say, we don’t want to disappoint the children of the world.
Apparently Producers received similar feedback from other potential families and those plans were cancelled. Soon thereafter the new game plan came about having 4 sets of families competing at a time. We liked these odds much better. It was the learning that the display would have to be put up in a 3 week time-frame that seemed impossible to us. It takes us two weeks just to get lights on the House and Roof alone. We were told that friends and family were allow to help, however as you can imagine most people work during the week just like us.
After much discussion we decided YES! We can do this; we will be on the show! Then we realized …. Uh-oh… We are not as young as we use to be and did not have the same stamina like we did when we were in our 30’s. The show producers and film crew set up Time Lapse Video Cameras all over and set up a camera in the home to talk about moments of the day. Funniest Video was Mark describing that Hyatt Extreme Christmas is also now known as Hyatt Extreme Weight Loss. Working 10-14 hours a day in the sun and darting away from jumping frogs and Insects flying all around you will lose weight immediately . To our dislike, we were selected to be in the first set of filming which was October 1st thru October 21st. This meant our annual Halloween Plans to Disney had to be cancelled as well as a school function for my son. The producers explained this was the best slot given for scheduling and we said No Problem. We are in it.. To Win it!
We worked hard and long each day and we can tell you first hand doing a show like this can put a strain on a marriage. If we weren’t married as long as we have been I can definitely see how people could contemplate divorce. Sadly while all this happening we are also dealing with the failing health of Mark’s Parents simultaneously.
Mark worked right up to the moment when the producers said Time is up. We are supposed to have our big reveal episode all dressed up in festive attire surrounded by friends and family. Problem for us our kids have outgrown all their clothes from last year and the stores are only selling Halloween clothes. My girlfriend was kind enough to go in search of kids clothes and dressed them as festive as you can during Halloween. Our crowd appeared small as almost everyone we knew was either in Orlando at Disney’s Not So Scary Halloween or Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror.
The producers explained we needed something exciting for when the Judge arrives. The Hyatt’s immediately reached out to their friends at Petersen’s Harley Davidson who kindly said yes to be in our episode. We had no less than 25 to 30 of the most magnificent decked out motorcycles and riders you can imagine with Mr. and Mrs. Claus leading the way to our home. Rock Star Fantastic, matter of fact they were so fantastic that when the Producers found out that the Judge selected another home as the winner the entire scene was deleted. Oh my gosh did we get calls the next day from the Harley People asking why they were cut.
The producer explained that our episode could not over shadow the winner’s episode. Like I said, the Harley Bikers were amazing riding up to the display and then each one put a dog toy or cat toy into the Humane Society donation box which was overflowing from their generosity.
During the course of the show, the Producers advised us that the name of the show was no longer going to be “Lights…. Camera … Christmas” and now was going to be “The Great Christmas Light Fight” . Mark and I immediately thought to ourselves, well this is a terrible name given the hardships we were enduring with the recently elected Mayor.
The City needed money and the Mayor was having all kinds of problems, her Plantation Police Department were actively and aggressively striking and picketing on a regular basis against her. The very next month in the Annual Holiday Parade the Plantation Police Officers created a huge float depicting the Mayor as a Grinch, complete with using the Grinch Face as the Mayor of Plantation.
When we refused to pay, to our horror the roads to our display was shut down. Extreme Abuse of Power! Sad, just sad…. As this was an opportunity to have the City of Plantation receive wonderful Public Relations and Publicity but instead received Tremendous Negative Press from their actions against a 20 year beloved Christmas Display. Two months later in February 2014 the Mayor made an announcement of her decision to use Tax Payer Monies to file a law suit against our family because of Christmas. Politics is a terrible thing.
** This year 2016 is an Election Year and we ask every Plantation Resident to go out and Vote in November! Vote Out every single Plantation Council Member!! They are mere puppets to the Mayor, and too scared to speak up on behalf of the Plantation Residents that voted them in office! **
However looking back at our participation in the show we must tell you, the whole experience was wonderful. ABC Network and their affiliates were great to work with, very professional and First Class all the way. Another great part of being on the show was making new Christmas Friends from the show and around the United States. The Downs Family from Oklahoma, The Satterwhite Family from Virginia and the Paradowski Family from Georgia. Wondering what we did the next day… sleep…. lots and lots of sleep.