Putting up Christmas lights is a fun, festive tradition for a lot of families, then there are those who go full Clark Griswold on their neighbors.
Count Ed Lambert of Gillette a Griswold disciple, stringing tens of thousands of holiday lights to cover his small home to the point it could possibly be seen from the International Space Station.
And when people compare him to the famous Chevy Chase character from the 1989 classic “Christmas Vacation,” Lambert knows he’s accomplished what he set out for.
“It’s definitely a compliment,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I love all the references to that. His house was better than mine; it had more lights. It was way better.”
Translation: You haven’t seen anything yet.
Better Wear Sunglasses
We’ll have to take Lambert’s word for it on that, but it’s difficult to tell who crammed more Christmas lights on their houses.
Compared to the displays on most homes, Lambert’s small house at 503 Richards Ave. is a nuclear plant next to a double A battery. Outside walls, roof and the huge tree in his front yard are packed with more than 26,000 LED lights. They’re so bright, some shade their eyes or put on sunglasses when driving by.
And if 26,000 doesn’t seem like a lot, consider his house is pretty dang small.
While it’s not verified it can be seen from space, Lambert thinks “that would be pretty neat. I would love to be in an airplane and see my house at night. All those planes (flying into Gillette) come in overhead, and they can definitely see my house.”
And the only reason there aren’t more lights on the house (if there’s even room for them) is because the local stores ran out.
“I kept buying out the local Walmart of these lights every year,” Lambert said. “Finally, this year they had enough for me that I could do the rest of my house.”
Method To The Madness
It seems “enough” also is relative, because Lambert said his mission is to add more every year.
“I’m using my house as an example” of what’s possible with Christmas light displays, he said. “What I’m trying to do is an idea I stole from the city of Rochester, Michigan. Their downtown, every business does that, and I did it to my house.”
He hopes Gillette’s historic downtown will be inspired to do the same, and instead of one modest home in northwest Wyoming being visible from space, the whole center of the city will.
And while it may seem Lambert has just crammed as many lights as possible on his house, there’s a method to his madness.
Unlike some who just throw everything and anything on their houses and cram their yards with plastic figurines and blow-up Santas, Lambert said he hates the gaudy look. His lights are clean, strung in straight lines and color-coordinated.
The near-blinding brightness comes from the white LEDs strung vertically all around the house. Then the roof, also in neat, straight lines, is covered in red, while the chimney and large tree out front glow green.
“We have one little plastic penguin out in the front yard and a plastic Santa on the house, but other than that, it’s really all about the lights,” Lambert said. “I like it clean, too. I’m not into just putting up anything.”
The look is completed with a red wreath hanging from the front door and a leg lamp in the front window.
“We’ve decorated before, but nothing as extreme as this,” he said. “It’s only the last few years we’ve been going all-out more like this.”
The Whole Family Is On Board
Although Ed drives this Christmas decorating bus, the rest of the Lambert clan is eager to ride along.
His wife, Kimberly, and their three daughters ages 16, 12 and 11 all love it almost as much.
When it’s time to put the lights up, “the whole family comes out and helps,” Ed said. “One daughter loves to help do the roof, another loves to do the tree and another the house. So, it goes pretty quick.
“They really love it and the attention it brings. They like being the kids from the little lit-up crystal house.”
And while it used to take days to put all the lights up, he’s perfected a system that gets it done in hours instead.
“Now I have a little system set up, so next year I can probably get all these lights hung in six hours instead of days and days,” he said.
For anyone else thinking of going Griswold on their homes, Ed Lambert has some advice.
“Go with LED lights. Make sure they’re LED,” he said. “It’s the only thing that’s saving my electric bill. Doing this really does not blow up my electric bill like everybody thinks it does.”
Until he takes the lights down after Christmas, Lambert said he’ll continue to enjoy the steady traffic his house is drawing to the neighborhood.
And while all those lights “really don’t shine into my house hardly at all,” he said the same isn’t true for “my poor neighbors. We actually bought blackout curtains for our neighbor because his bedroom is on that side of his house.”
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