When Clark W. Griswold plugged in his Christmas lights he took his family to the threshold of hell. When Jerry Ludy plugs in his 130,000 lights he takes an entire community to the threshold of joy.
Now, after 20 years on Ironstone Drive, a Scrooge in a neighboring subdivision is challenging Ludy's wonderful life.
Even if you're not personally acquainted with the Ludy family, you've probably had a dose of their Christmas cheer. From Thanksgiving to New Year's, when the sun goes down, visitors creep past the synchronized light show in the Cottonwood Subdivision and give thanks that it is powered by Ludy's electric bill and not their own.
But not everyone shares their holiday spirit, and this week a Columbus police officer delivered a greeting from a person down the street who called the law to complain about traffic generated by Ludy's lights.
The lawman didn't serve Ludy with a citation and he never identified the complainant. He just said someone was upset.
"They are unable to access their home in a timely manner," he told Ludy.
Ludy describes friction between Cottonwood and Broadfield subdivisions since a cul-de-sac at the end of Ironstone was opened to give the new neighborhood an alternative way to get home. He claims they use the Cottonwood entrance on Flat Rock Road as their own.
Years ago, locals took their children to see the Quattlebaum house in Oakland Park but it was a static display. Now visitors flock to see what new animated twist Ludy and his computer have cooked up.
The volume of lights at the Ludys is reminiscent of the Griswold display in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," a 1989 comedy that has become a holiday classic. In the film, Clark and Ellen create a power outage all over town. But it wasn't lights that caused the officer to visit.
Sgt. Art Sheldon of the police department's patrol division is familiar with their annual show, and from what he knows about it, they are not in violation of traffic laws.
"It's not his fault that traffic backs up to look at the lights," Sheldon said. "It's Christmas traffic and there is nothing we can do about that."
Jerry and his son, Keith, often serve as unofficial traffic cops encouraging drivers to keep moving. Some people park their cars so their children can sit on Santa Claus' knee.
They can also give money to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and over the past eight years donors have raised more than $40,000.
Clark W. Griswold was determined to have a "good old family Christmas" and in a more serious manner that is what Jerry Ludy wants for people who come to see his holiday spectacular.
"We intend to keep on doing what we've been doing," he said.
Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.