Like a plot out of one of the movies in National Lampoon's "Vacation" series, Christmas decorating efforts escalated along Rosewood Court in Hesston when Kory Barber moved to the block a few years ago.
At the time, Austin Bollinger was the resident Clark Griswold of the neighborhood — setting up a massive light display at his family's house (while utilizing some neighbors' houses as well) at 405 Rosewood Ct. That display is programmed to 40 minutes of music and features 60,000 lights this year spread across eight different houses in the neighborhood.
Prior to Barber moving to Rosewood Court, Bollinger noted he was aware of his display — though it had been across town up to that point in time. Barber's own light show is a 20-minute program with 3,000 lights and it has sparked some competition between the resident Christmas enthusiasts as they now occupy real estate on the same block.
"It's been a Griswold battle the whole time now," Bollinger said.
"A friendly one," Barber added.
"We help each other out if we have programming issues," Bollinger said, "or something like that."
For both, admittedly, the hobby of preparing Christmas light displays has built up over the years — something that, in the end, will take months to get ready.
Once it is all done — with displays that continue to get bigger and better each year — it is well worth it for both.
"Even as a kid or growing up, the first time you put up lights on a house, you just want more. Then, you start getting compliments and things like that, people saying 'hey, I really liked your show.' It drives you to do more and more," Barber said. "It doesn't consume you, but it gets you into it."
"We always love it. I definitely love it; I think he does, too, when we all see the lights working and everybody comes and sees it and enjoys the light show," Bollinger said.
As far as the competition goes, both Bollinger and Barber strive to be the first with their respective displays up — with Barber taking that honor by one full day this year. His house (301 Rosewood Ct.) was set up by Nov. 23 — something he admitted, with a laugh, that he did on purpose.
Barber also said there is an element of surprise to setting up the light displays, as you don't want to show your hand too early, since each individual continues to add on to their respective shows.
Despite the competition, there is also a lat of camaraderie between Bollinger and Barber sparked through the pride and joy they take from their Christmas light displays — and an appreciation for a neighborhood that will allow them to indulge in their passion. Admittedly, both often have their displays down by New Year's Day so they don't "annoy the neighbors too much."
More than what they take from the hobby, both Bollinger and Barber said they hope to spread the joy of the holidays through their displays — something they have already seen in the first weeks of having them up this year. Both have added some bells and whistles to their shows, most notably perhaps being some new songs. Already, Barber and Bollinger have heard those songs parroted back to them outside their houses — with Bollinger noting some of the first visitors to his house showed a great deal of enthusiasm for his song addition, "The Greatest Show," on a night he was outside checking to make sure his display was working properly.
"All I hear is this little girl and boy, screaming at the top of their lungs — in their car, with the windows closed — and I could hear them perfectly singing that song," Bollinger said. "It was kind of cool to see that. All the little kids definitely enjoy our displays."
"When you see 20 cars on Rosewood, it's pretty awesome. You've done something that not everybody can do," Barber said.
"Especially during Christmas time, our street's packed," Bollinger said. "It's definitely fun to see that."
The Lights on Rosewood displays typically run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and go until 10:30 p.m. on the weekends (though Barber noted his cutoff is usually 9:30 p.m. regardless). The programmed shows can be heard by tuning to 98.9 FM for 405 Rosewood Ct. and 88.1 FM for 301 Rosewood Ct. Additionally, Bollinger has set up a donation box for local charities at his display and will be giving out free candy canes throughout the holiday season.