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Published December 25 2010

Griswold Award Winner: Moorhead family takes 2010 honors for holiday display

Troy Gilbertson loves “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” a comedy film in which Chevy Chase’s character, Clark Griswold, goes to great lengths to light up his home for the holiday.

“We’ve watched that forever – since I was a kid,” Gilbertson says.

And that’s as it should be for The Forum’s 2010 winner of the Clark Griswold Christmas light display contest.

The Gilbertson home at 2602 Spruce Lane in Moorhead took 694 of the more than 2,200 votes cast. The next closest contestants earned 412 and 295 votes respectively.

“I think it’s great,” Gilbertson said of winning the contest. “I’m happy.”

His creation is composed of thousands of bulbs. Gilbertson and a friend installed a breaker box specifically for the display this year, and the vast majority of the front of his home is covered in a mesh of lights and wires. An illuminated bear, two deer, a sleigh and three spiral-styled trees adorn the front lawn. Lighted ropes line the driveway. Musical accompaniment also adds to this winter wonderland.

“My wife (Nichole) thinks I have a sickness,” Gilbertson says.

She uses the word “addiction” to describe her husband’s holiday endeavor.

“Everything has to be perfect,” she says.

Extension cords must be hidden. Timing must be spot-on. Broken lights must be fixed – right away.

“I think that’s awesome,” she said of the Griswold Award win. “We’ve never been nominated before.”

Don’t look for apathy to set in just because Gilbertson took home this year’s prestigious Clark Griswold Award.

“My goal since we moved (into this home) is to get better every year,” he says.

And he soon plans to head out to the post-Christmas sales to pick up some discount deals to make his display even better.

It is, after all, a labor of love.

“I just like Christmas,” Gilbertson says. “I love the spirit of Christmas.”

The hard work seems to be worth it for Gilbertson.

“If I can make people drive by and enjoy it, I think that’s great,” he says.

And it’s not just passers-by who get a kick out of the display. His own children do as well.

“They love it,” Nichole Gilbertson said. “They have us park in the driveway so they can listen to the music before we pull into the garage.”

The Pettys family lives across the street from the Gilbertsons, and they enjoy it as well.

“It’s pretty cool,” says 9-year-old Alivia Pettys.

“It’s pretty,” says her 8-year-old sister, Andrea. “It makes pretty music.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734