A few Top of Utah residents can give Clark Griswold's trademark holiday spirit a run for its money.
Griswold, played by Chevy Chase in the 1989 comedy "Christmas Vacation," was infatuated with the idea of the perfect Christmas -- including a house that glowed in the snow, plastered from foundation to chimney in holiday lights.
Boasted Griswold: "250 strands of light, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights."
Well, several local residents can put Griswold to shame with their holiday decorations -- which include lights choreographed to dance to the music on their own radio frequencies.
And, best of all, the public is invited to partake in these families' holiday spirit.
The Hanceys started their extravagant musical show as a way to save electricity.
"I have always put Christmas lights up," said David Hancey. "I got more and more, and the electrical bill kept going higher and higher. So we heard about these lighting systems that don't use as much (electricity)."
Amie Hancey bought her husband a musical 16-channel light kit as a birthday gift -- and their electrical bill did go down.
Six years have passed, and the Centerville family's annual holiday hobby has swelled. David's job is to make sure the lights are in their correct place, and Amie Hancey programs each strand to a musical note. They are now up to 176 channels of twinkling lights and a playlist of a dozen songs -- and all it takes is a mere 100 or so man-hours to complete.
"We have just grown it and grown it since then," said David Hancey. "Our neighbor invited us to move some stuff over into his yard this year."
The neighborhood has been supportive of the display, and in turn Amie Hancey said they try to make sure that onlookers avoid blocking neighbors' driveways.
The Hanceys also continue a tradition of putting out a donation box as part of the display. This year, donations support two charities, starting with Viewmont High School's annual fundraiser supporting the Guadalupe School in Salt Lake City.
"We are raising all this money, as much as we can, to go and buy presents for these kids at the Guadalupe School, from kindergarten to fourth grade," said Luke Plaizier, a senior at Viewmont.
In return, the students helped the Hanceys set up this year's light display.
Donations will go toward the Viewmont fundraiser until Dec. 17. After that date, donations collected will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
WHERE: 1375 N. 200 West, Centerville
HOURS: 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday (rock music plays after 9:30 p.m.)
PIÃàCE DE RÃâSISTANCE: Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"
All those lights
Riverdale's Richard Morrison has been called Clark Griswold a time or two, for his elaborate holiday displays. But then someone told him about a West Haven home that has produced a musical display for years. Morrison and his wife, Kim, went and took a look, and came away surprised. Said Richard: "I can do that."
He started off small, but the self-professed "tinkerer" quickly built his display by adding thousands of lights, and even welding decorations together.
"I have been carrying two cases of lights in the back of my truck because I don't have room for them," Morrison said.
Last year, he included a new visual treat when he installed a makeshift projection screen in a bedroom window and ran a video loop of Santa Claus walking around.
Setting up the display takes two weeks. Programming the music? "That goes on all year," Morrison said.
From Thanksgiving through the new year, the Morrison's dedicate themselves to the display. You will not see a light on inside their house during this time.
"When the Christmas lights are on we don't live upstairs. We live downstairs," said Morrison.
Kim Morrison added, "He wouldn't let us go up to turn the lights on. We would have to find things in the dark."
The holiday season has always been their favorite time, and they love to see the reaction of others to their display.
"If I can make someone's day a little brighter, make someone smile, or a kid happy -- that's why I do it," Morrison said.
WHERE: 1198 W. 5525 South, Riverdale
HOURS: 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
PIÃàCE DE RÃâSISTANCE: Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas"
Trees of light
The Burnett family's home, just off U.S. 89, is secluded among the trees. Perfect for them, as they are private people.
But five years ago they decided to create a holiday display using those trees.
"It was just the fact we have so many trees," said Mr. Burnett, who declined to give his first name. "The second year we decided to animate them."
The trees are wrapped with thousands of lights, programmed to music that plays on a radio frequency. He added a speaker system this year.
"We have three-quarters of a mile of lights. I have about 300 feet of extension cords," said Burnett. "It sounds like a lot, but it doesn't go far."
The majority of his free time has been dedicated to the programming, which includes holiday rock hits to soft carols. He adds a couple of songs every year.
"It's just time-consuming because you have to program every note and every light that goes on and every light that goes off. I manually do that and sync it up with music," Burnett said.
He has tried to incorporate the newer energy-saving LED lights in the display but says it's more difficult to make them fade out. Besides, he hasn't needed to make the display an energy saver. Such displays already are.
"I hardly even notice a hit on my bill," Burnett said. "If I had them all on at once it's about 5,000 watts. But they are only on for a fraction of a second at a time and not all on at the same time."
After the new year he will shut down the music and turn off the lights. As for the hundred of thousands of lights? Not a chance he's unwrapping them from the trees.
"I leave them up," Burnett said. "There's no way I would take those lights down every year."
WHERE: 8021 S. 2700 East, South Weber
HOURS: Dusk-9 p.m. weekdays, dusk-10 p.m. weekends
PIÃàCE DE RÃâSISTANCE: Harry Connick Jr.'s "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer"