A neighborhood in Gilbert has won a national contest for its computer-animated Christmas light show. The Comstock neighborhood was featured on the December 14 episode of ABC's The Great Christmas Light Fight, a show that pits American neighborhoods against one another to compete for the most impressive holiday light display. In last week's episode, "Christmas on Comstock" beat out neighborhoods in Celebration, Florida, and Waipahu, Hawaii.
Winners of the show don't just enjoy bragging rights. A total of $300,000 in prizes ($50,000 per episode) are up for grabs. Gilbert's "Christmas on Comstock," near Elliott and Higley Roads, won the $50,000 prize, which was split among the 13 families who participated. Each family also received an identical trophy that resembles a large Christmas light bulb.
Organized by neighborhood resident Brian McNamara, the families began to set up the intricate holiday light display in mid-September. The show is made up of 512 individual circuits, over 110,000 lights, 285 strobe lights, and over 50,000 feet of wire.
The lights dance to four Christmas songs (each required 20 hours of programming time from McNamara), including the popular electronic version of "Carol of the Bells." Visitors can listen in the warmth of their cars by tuning their radios to a specific station. For those traveling on foot, neighborhood kids sell styrofoam cups of hot chocolate at make-shift kiosks.
McNamara's family will donate a portion of their winnings to the Arizona chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation; the neighbors are also accepting donations for the organization at various drop boxes along the street. Started in 1980, the organization's mission is to grant the wishes of seriously ill children. To date, they've granted almost 5,000 wishes. Recently, the organization was also named a top-rated 2015 nonprofit by GreatNonprofits.org. Through December 31, any donation you make will be matched.
McNamara says he lost count of how many cars have passed through so far, but he estimates that they have had about 400 cars an hour. In fact, the response has been a bit overwhelming for the residents. Cars line up for half a mile to get into the neighborhood. McNamara is concerned that if visitor counts continue to increase, the show might be at risk of being shut down by local police. The event's Facebook page urges visitors to park at various nearby locations and walk to the neighborhood to reduce the volume of traffic.
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At this rate, the neighborhood should be well on track towards granting wishes to children in need this year.
"Christmas on Comstock" will be open through New Year's Eve. Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and 6 to 10:30 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.