Four Arizona Families Will Battle on The Great Christmas Light Fight This Week

Mel and Patti Tasker's house in Laveen as seen on The Great Christmas Light Fight.
Mel and Patti Tasker's house in Laveen as seen on The Great Christmas Light Fight. ABC Television
A quartet of Arizona’s biggest and brightest home holiday displays will battle for supremacy on national television this week, courtesy of ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight.

The popular reality competition show, which features extravagantly and excessively decorated houses from across the U.S., will air an episode on Thursday, December 2, focusing on families (and their over-the-top holiday displays) from Phoenix and Tucson.

It’s part of this season’s twist for the long-running television program, which has aired during every holiday season since 2013, with each episode pitting four homes from a single state against each other. Thursday night’s Arizona-focused episode will feature Christmastime displays created by Arcadia resident Lee Sepanek, Laveen couple Mel and Patti Tasker, and the Morales and Moussette families of Tucson.

According to the show’s producers, footage for the episode was shot in fall 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Steps were reportedly taken to lessen the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and not utilizing crowds.

Other than those changes, it should be similar to previous episodes of The Great Christmas Light Fight. Each house will be showcased and the show’s host Carter Oosterhouse or another judge will pick a winner from among the four. At stake are a $50,000 cash prize, a golden trophy shaped like a giant Christmas light bulb, and plenty of bragging rights.

That’s not to say each of the Arizona families featured don’t already have plenty to brag about when it comes to their lights and decorations.
click to enlarge Lee Sepanek in front of his renowned holiday display in Arcadia. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Lee Sepanek in front of his renowned holiday display in Arcadia.
Benjamin Leatherman
Sepanek (who’s known to many by his nickname “Christmas Lee”) operates one of the most best-loved and longest-running holiday displays in the Valley at his home near 44th Street and Camelback Road. A sea of 250,000 lights is woven throughout a canopy of towering trees and envelops the rest of his enormous property.

The display, which Sepanek has been creating for 30-plus years, also includes a team of glowing reindeer overhead and a walk-through garden with glowing animals and Victorian-era carolers. He also has several exterior window displays on his property showcasing animatronic figures, snow-covered dioramas, or endless amounts of vibrant ornaments.

click to enlarge Patti and Mel Tasker. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Patti and Mel Tasker.
Benjamin Leatherman
Over in Laveen, the ranch-style home of Lee and Patti Tasker near 63rd Avenue and Baseline Road offers just as much revelry during the holidays. More than 300,000 multicolored LED lights cover almost every inch of their residence and give the scene a festive glow.

The couple has been doing the display since the mid-’90s and created almost 500 handpainted wooden cutouts of comic book, cartoon, video game, and anime characters arranged along either side of their driveway. There’s also a bestiary of illuminated zoo animals and an undersea scene, both of which were built by Mel Tasker from repurposed household appliances.

Meanwhile, the two families from Tucson are neither slouches nor Grinches when it comes to holiday decorating.

Every year, Dan Moussette transforms the three-bedroom home in northwest Tucson he shares with his wife, Patty, into a Yuletide wonderland filled with 65,000 lights, a 20-foot-tall Santa saguaro cactus, and more than 150 cutouts he created from wood, steel, and plastic. (He also has 15 to 20 “Christmoose,” which play off his last name.)

Like Sepanek and the Taskers, the 63-year-old Christmas fanatic has been rigging up his display for the past few decades and keeps things DIY and old school. He tells Phoenix New Times he makes everything by hand and doesn’t use computer-powered synchronization to run his lights.

“It’s been a labor of love with this thing,” Moussette says. “I think that might give me the edge since Carter [Oosterhouse] judged my display and he’s a big DIY guy like I am. He seemed really impressed that everything was handmade.”
Tucson resident Frank Morales says Oosterhouse was also blown away by the spectacular holiday display and light show at his family’s two-story home. It's powered by 250,000 synchronized LED pixels and also features two mega-trees, four 60-inch video screens, and a “digital pond” populated by Disney characters.

“We're always getting bigger and better every year,” Morales says.

But is it big enough to sway the show’s judges his way and beat out three other Arizona displays? We’ll find out on Thursday night starting at 9 p.m. 
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.