Blount county's own Clark Griswold builds mega Christmas light display

By: Stephen McLamb Email
By: Stephen McLamb Email

Remember this? That's Clark Griswold when the lights on his house, finally lit up in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.

What a memorable movie.

Well Blaine Howell is hoping for the same success when he lights up his display in about a week.

45-thousand lights.

Not to mention a huge 20 foot tree.

And a synchronized radio station to boot.

Blaine's hoping his display is better than Clark Griswold's!

Meet Blaine Howell, or is he east Tennessee's real Clark Griswold?

"My family seems to think so. I call it a hobby. They call it an obsession," says Howell.

Howell is building a Christmas light display unlike most others. He started two years ago.
It was a big hit with many in the community but not all of his neighbors.

"It had to been an aggravation for some of them with a lot of the traffic because we did have quite a bit of traffic at times and I'm sure there were times they couldn't get home," says Howell.

So Howell took last year off.....but that didn't go over well.

"It was a negative reaction when I didn't do it last year. Had a lot of people that were really disappointed," says Howell.

So this year, Howell is going bigger and better. From 20-thousand lights in 2006 to close to 45-thousand this year, a mega tree, and all synchronized with music.

"I've went from one box to five boxes which goes from 16 channels to 80 channels so it's a pretty big project," says Howell.

Howell also has his own low power FM transmitter to help those traveling by.

"You hear my music. You pull up and turn y our radio in your car to my channel," says Howell.

Howell hopes the community enjoys it. So does he plan to get bigger and better next year? Howell says let's get through this year.

"I don't know. We'll just have to see what this economy does," says Howell.

Something that Howell plans to do that's new this year that he feels shouldn't be really considered new.

He plans to put "Christ" back in Christmas and that will also be part of the display.

His goal is to have the display up and running Thanksgiving evening.

His home is located near the intersection of highways 411 and 129 south of Maryville on Ardennes drive.

Howell says a sign will be posted so you'll know what frequency to turn your radio to to enjoy the music that goes with the display.


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