The Norman Transcript

December 13, 2013

Local light display gains national notoriety

by Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A Norman family’s Christmas light display has been shining bright for locals for seven years. But this holiday season is the first year that has garnered the Downs Family Christmas Light Ministry national attention.

The family’s large LED light display is being featured on “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC primetime, a new competition series in which 20 families from across America deck out their homes for the chance to win $50,000. The series premiered Dec. 9, with the Downs family featured 8 p.m. Dec. 23.

As a part of the competition rules, Kimberli and Chuck Downs had to set up, run and tear down the display without professional assistance of any kind in just 21 days.

Kimberli said the family, including the couple’s five daughters, normally take two to three months to set up the entire display, complete with various displays that twinkle and blink to seasonal music.

The family was miked and filmed starting in early October. Kimberli said the reality TV show experience was nerve-wracking at first, but they enjoyed the process and getting to know the film crew.

“It will be interesting,” she said, on seeing the finished TV show product. “Hundreds and hundreds of hours of video, and I’m interested to see what they pick out and put together.”

Kimberli said the family has yet to be informed on if they’ve won any money. But with the family hosting the display for free every year and also accepting food donations on site for Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Kimberli said money is the last thing on their minds.

“We’ve never done it to win or for the money,” she said. “We mostly just did it to get some more exposure for the display, which will help the food bank by getting more people out.”

Kimberli said they estimate that approximately 22,000 vehicles visit the display every year. According to the display’s website, that translates to 10,318 pounds of food and $40,794.38 in cash donated at the display for the Regional Food Bank in 2012.

The show runs every night 6 p.m. to midnight, weather permitting, through Jan. 4 at the Downs family’s home, 2900 72nd Ave. SE. This year’s display started Thanksgiving evening.

Every year the family adds a new portion to the display and a fresh song or two, Kimberli said, with the ultimate goal of providing a joyful experience for other families.

As for the future, Kimberli said she sees no immediate end in sight.

“As long as we’re healthy and able to do it, we’ll be doing it,” she said.

For more information, visit downsfamilychristmas.com or find them on Facebook.

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