Christmas Light Competition Mesmerizes Crowds - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Christmas Light Competition Mesmerizes Crowds

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It's a sibling rivalry that started years ago, when Gigi Wilz challenged her brother to a light fight. But when construction on her new home was delayed, her brother decided to prove a point.

"What we did is we drug an old, frumpy looking Charlie Brown Christmas tree over, put a couple of bulbs on it, and plugged it in in their front yard. And that's all they had," says Greg Wilz.

"And the part he didn't tell you about is the sign he made that said, basically, 'You lose,'" says Gigi.

"So, obviously, we won," says Greg.

"It started that day. And we started talking about how it was going to be different the next year," says Gigi.

Lights on Chestnut is a holiday tradition for the Wilz family, and it's changed quite a bit over the last few years. What began as a friendly competition has grown into a Christmas light display that includes 220,000 lights, timed to seven different songs.

"I think we get smarter at what we're doing. And I'll be honest with you, it was Greg's idea to develop the computer switches and take a look at that, and I just kind of went along for the ride," says Gigi.

"I really wanted not to tell them about these computer controllers. But, in the end, I thought, 'Gosh, if we're both doing this stuff we can still compete.' So, we both, at the same year, bought the computer controllers to start controlling the lights. And we started small, and we would just grow it each and every year," says Greg.

Gigi and Greg plan year round, but the big push begins in July. And each year, both brother and sister come up with a 'Big Dog' to keep the competition going.

But, both Greg and Gigi say it's all about getting into the holiday spirit.

"I think you come out and look at the lights, because it's not necessarily about these lights, but it's to put you in the spirit to remember all those incredible Christmases, all those incredible family events, perhaps people you've lost along the way. It takes you there to that place. And that's an incredible memory," says Gigi.

"It costs somewhere between $200-250 to pull this off for the months of November and December, which is a small price to pay for the number of smiles we buy," says Greg.

Gigi says they hand out about 15,000 candy canes to visitors every year.

The show starts at 5:30 every night and runs until 10:30 on weeknights and 11 on weekends.

 

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