Parkton’s Griswold lights up the community

Katie Salko, Features Editor

“Is your house on fire, Clark?”

“No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.”

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a film that most of us know and love. What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to cuddle up on the couch with your fuzzy Santa socks, flannel pajamas, and peppermint hot chocolate?

One thing that students can agree on is to actually enter into the movie through Parkton’s very own Clark Griswold, Chuck Greason.

Off of Bee Tree Road, on Kitzbuhel, there is a house that uses 60,000 lights to decorate every year. No, that’s not a typo. 60,000 Christmas lights.

“I start putting them up every year on Sept. 1,” Greason said. “It takes a full 3 months and then I open up on Thanksgiving.”

This kind of dedication doesn’t spring out of nowhere. According to Greason, Operations Manager for Donahue Collisions, he has long appreciated this hobby.

“I started putting up lights when I was a kid,” Greason said.

For 25 years, the community has been lit up every holiday season, but the enjoyment isn’t the only thing they are depending on.

“The community counts on it for the food bank donations,” Greason said.

Livianna Pisano, (‘22) who attends every year with her family, acknowledges the charity aspect of it as well.
“You bring in canned goods to help out,” Pisano said. “I think it brings everyone together.”

Carissa Mileto (‘20) just recently heard about the lights and is planning on going to see them this year.

“From what I’ve heard from everybody, it’s very nice and well set-up,” Mileto said. “I’m excited for it. I think it’ll be a good time.”

However, Mileto isn’t the only one anticipating its excitement. Nikki Mondo (‘21) attended in the past and wants to go again.

“I think it’s fun to bring people together and get them in the holiday spirit,” Mondo said. “It’s exciting to see the houses that go all out for the holidays.”

Greason knows that the community expects a good display, and he works hard to give it to them—all of them.

“We get between 5,000 and 10,000 people each year,” Greason said. “They make a donation which they know helps the food bank and it helps to get people in the Christmas spirit.”

According to Greason, he spends around $8,000 a year on the lights, food and drinks, and electrical bill. However, he doesn’t attempt to make a profit.

“I don’t do it to make money,” Greason said. “I do it to help the community.”

This charitable attitude is the epitome of the holiday season and just one thing out of many that draws people to the lights.

“We started showing our family and then it became a tradition,” Pisano said. “It’s so much fun. Everyone there is so nice and it’s always a good time.”

Mondo agrees. “There were a lot of families brought together and it was nice to see a lot of people,” she said.

No one can say for sure why the lights are so popular, but there is speculation.

Greason himself has a prediction.

“The kids love it because of the swing,” Greason said. “The parents get to sit by the fire and drink hot chocolate; people spend hours there.”

Pisano has another guess.

“I think it’s popular because of how interesting and cool it is,” Pisano said. “There’s not really a lot like that up here, just in general.”

Mileto has an idea as well.

“It’s one of the big things to do in our community without having to leave and go to the city for their light show,” Mileto said. “It’s something just around here where it’s our own safe environment.”

Whatever the reason may be, it’s obvious that the hard work put into it is clearly reciprocated by the donations made and the spirits risen.

“It’s celebrating Christmas and bringing everyone together,” Pisano said.

Greason enjoys being a part of the community’s holiday traditions, but has other traditions that he enjoys besides the lights as well.

Greason opens his house up to the public Sunday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. He officially opened on Thanksgiving and will remain open for visitors until the beginning of January.

If you’re like Mileto and need something to spice up your holiday, stop by, have a cup of hot chocolate, and take a ride on the swing. It’s a great opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit and benefit the community without the 40-minute drive into the city.