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Christmas light display a big winner


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  Motorists traveling along East Atlanta Road north of Stockbridge at night during the Christmas season receive a feast for the eyes, courtesy of one particular house’s spectacular light display.

  Millions of Americans were able to share in that experience last week via national television, and the family responsible for the display won $50,000 for its efforts.

The Tittiger family of Stockbridge, whose home is shown above, recently won them $50,000 on the ABC-TV’s Great Christmas Light Fight. They estimate that they have more than 80,000 lights in use.                                       Photo by Monroe Roark

  The Tittiger family was named the winner of a recent episode of ABC-TV’s “Great Christmas Light Fight.” They competed against families from Orange, Conn.; Cathedral City, Calif.; and Cedar Park, Tex.

  The show aired Dec. 16, but viewers can watch it on demand at the network’s web site or with its viewing app.

  Michael and Judy Tittiger’s twin daughters, Amy Tittiger Jones and Jenny Tittiger McDonald, spearheaded the effort after asking their mother several years ago what she wanted for Christmas. She said she just wanted the house decorated.

  Now, “it just gets bigger and bigger every year,” as one of the girls put it.

  A camera crew for the show came to Henry County a few months ago to film the segment, which included footage of the girls bowling at Fun Bowl in McDonough (they are former employees) and working at the same dental office.

  The show gave a detailed look at the decorating process, starting in the Elf Hut. This large area over the garage of the Tittiger house is where they store the huge inflatables, trees, hundreds of lawn ornaments, and strands of lights. It is also where Judy checks every light in advance to make sure it still works, while Amy and Jenny go over their design plans on a large chalkboard so they can map out every section of the property. (Some of their competitors did their designs by computer.)

  The latest count is about 80,000 lights, although Judy admitted that was probably low because “we did some shopping this year.”

  The family took a break one year from decorating and caused a bit of a stir in the neighborhood. “People thought we had a death in the family,” said Judy. “The neighbors brought us food.”

  The TV segment showed the family scrambling to get everything done in the final 24 hours before judging, then one night a host of friends gathered outside the home to await the arrival of show host and judge Sabrina Soto.

  Soto greeted the family with excitement and commented on how they obviously loved Christmas, but she was not overwhelmed at first.

  “When the decorations were unlit, they didn’t look that great,” said Soto. “I wasn’t too impressed.”

  That changed in an instant. Inside the Elf Hut, Michael and the girls’ husbands counted down to zero and flipped the switches simultaneously. The property came to life under the glow of the lights and Soto’s jaw dropped.

  “Oh my gosh,” she said. “This is so amazing.”

  Judy noted how surprised the host was when she saw the transformation.

  “The look on her face was worth a million dollars,” she said. “It was worth all the work we did.”

  Everyone was crying – the girls, Judy in her Mrs. Claus costume, and even Soto.

  “This is not what I was expected at all,” said Soto. “Judy, you have the best kids in the whole world.”

  After the initial scene, the family walked Soto through the display and pointed out the various sections, which reminded her of a theme park. The girls explained that the display was divided into four quadrants: Winter Wonderland, Candy Land, Deer Land and Misfit Land.

  Soto complimented them more than once on the fact that the yard is interactive, designed so that visitors can actually walk through it and experience it from the inside without tripping over anything.

  The girls showed off the large gingerbread men that they made themselves out of plywood, and the button in the middle of the yard for kids to push and make the nose on one of the reindeer glow bright red.

  The overall effect made a greater impact on Soto than some other homes with more than 100,000 lights, she said. “It just glowed.”

  The final segment of the one-hour program showed Soto returning to the Tittiger house to present the family with a special trophy and inform them that they won the $50,000 prize, which the girls had said earlier in the show would be given to their parents if they won.

  “It really made me feel like a kid again,” said the host. “You guys knocked it out of the park.”



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