Battle of the Griswolds

Forget peace on earth, good will to men and all that crap. Christmas, above all else, is about one thing: draping your house and shrubbery in excessive amounts of very, very small light bulbs to the envy and/or embarrassment of your neighbors.

Two Coloradans have taken the pursuit to a whole new level of, well, something. Some would call it creativity; others would call it insanity. Here’s the breakdown.

Name: Alek Komarnitsky Nickname: The guy with the giant inflatable Hulk doll Location: Lafayette Website: Number of lights: 17,000 Best gimmick: Visitors can remotely control the lights and lawn ornaments through the website from 5 to 10 p.m. each night. (Komarnitsky made national news in 2004 when he announced this accomplishment in 2004. It was an elaborate hoax, though; he didn’t actually make it work until a year later). Proof he has way too much time on his hands: Not only does Komarnitsky describe the operation’s circuit layout on his website, he’s also calculated how much CO2 emissions the lights generate (0.61 tons, the same amount emitted by a cross-country airlines trip) and made a contribution to to help offset the impact. Why his neighbors are likely to be institutionalized: Hundreds of people all over the world attempting to turn on and off his lights at the same time produces a maddening Dadaist display with no appealing pattern whatsoever. Best part: Komarnitsky solicits donations through the website for the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, since his children have Celiac Disease. His efforts have raised more than $20,000 for the center. Biggest complaint: Komarnitsky’s thoroughly over-stimulating website likely causes seizures in young children. Name: Mike Medhurst Nickname: The Greeley Grizwalds (sic) Location: Greeley Website: Number of lights: 70,000 Best gimmick: Medhurst has coordinated amazing light shows to the tunes of “Boughs of Holly,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra song “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24.” Proof he has way too much time on his hands: To make the synchronized light shows, Medhurst had to program the operation’s 128 computer-controlled light channels for each half-second of music. No wonder each song took him 20 hours. Why his neighbors are likely to be institutionalized: Watching a light show to “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” is badass. Watching that same light show for the 60th time is less so. Best part: 70,000 lights. Nuff said. Biggest complaint: What, no light show to “Christmas In Hollis”?

So which one is better? Or, more importantly, which designer is more insane? Feel free to weigh in – and add submissions of your own. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner