Larry Heiing didn’t set out to be the Clark Griswold of Delphos. It just kind of happened.
He had always decorated the inside of their home with a Nutcracker collection when one day his oldest son, Logan, suggested something be done with the outside, too.
That was the beginning of Heiing’s metamorphosis into Clark Griswold, the fictional character in the classic 1989 holiday movie, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Clark had a house decorated for Christmas like no other, and Heiing isn’t too far behind.
“At first, we just had a few lights. Then one day there were a lot,” Heiing said.
It’s no accident how that happened. First you need to understand that while Heiing may be a pharmacist, more so, he’s a kid at heart. It’s the little things — like having three straight vowels in his last name — that are “all part of the experience” for this Griswold. Heiing has added lights and decorations to his home at the the corner of Scott and Third streets for 17 years. He knew he had something special when one day he heard some children referring to their home as the “Griswold house.”
There are rules when it comes to the display.
“We won’t put the same decoration in the same place two years in a row,” Heiing said. “We have to keep it looking fresh. Every year our boys came up with a different theme on what we are going to do. One year we put a bunch of animals and trees out there. Another year it was like a sea of white. They always come up with something different.”
In the spirit of the Griswold’s, this year they’re having “a fun, old-fashioned, full blown four-alarm holiday.”
“My goal, I’ve always always wanted an RV to put on the front yard to coordinate with the station wagon we’ve had a couple of times,” Heiing said. “And this is the first year we actually got an RV to go along with the station wagon. Our son Logan is dressing up this year as cousin Eddie. He’s been standing out there in nothing but a house coat and shoes along with a Rottweiler dog. He’s having a good time with it. People enjoy it.”
Heiing won’t say how long it takes to put up the display. He’s helped by Logan and his other two sons — Austin and Noah — and they usually start in October. “I’ve never added up the hours. I don’t want to know,” Heiing said.
Same goes for taking it down.
“My goal is Easter,” he said. “Believe it or not, we can fit everything in the cubbyhole under our porch.”
That’s not the end of it. There’s still the matter of the electric bill.
“You know how there’s a bar graph on your electric bill showing usage? When December comes our’s just goes straight up off the paper. I was going to frame it one year because when you look at it, it’s kind of comical.”
In recent years Heiing has considered forgoing the display, but his wife, Deann, wouldn’t hear of it.
“She’s basically been the driving force the last five years. She’s like, ‘oh you have to keep doing it. It makes so many people happy.”
This year will definitely be the last, though. The Heiings are selling their home.
“It’s a big, five bedroom house. With all the kids growing up and moving out, it’s just my wife and I. There’s so many flights of stairs in the house, my old knees are telling me it’s time to move.”
For now though, as Clark Griswold would say, let’s just drive by and enjoy Heiing’s “exterior illumination.”
ROSES AND THORNS: A host of state patrolmen are pulled over in the rose garden.
Rose: To members of the Ohio Highway Patrol who recently received Trooper of the Year honors:
• Zachary Norris, 26, a 2012 graduate of Shawnee High School, was honored by the Lima post.
• Alex J. Lampert, 34, was honored by the Wapakoneta post. He’s been with the patrol since 2012 and is a graduate of St. Marys Memorial High School.
• Tyler J. Blankemeyer, 24, received top honors at the Defiance post. He’s a graduate of Fort Jennings High School and has been with the patrol since 2018.
• Jacob W. Lawson, 28, was honored by the Van Wert post. He’s been with the patrol since 2018.
Rose: To Rosalind and John Burgess, of Lima. who celebrated 60 years of marriage on Dec. 4.
Rose: Theresa Blakey of F-T Lima was nominated for the National Association of Small Trucking Companies’ driver of the year award. She’s driven more than 720,000 accident-free miles.
Thorn: To Frank Oen, who resigned from Cridersville Council before finishing his first term “because things didn’t work out as he expected,” Mayor Rick Walls said. Oen ran for mayor in 2019 but was defeated by Walls, 206-102.
Thorn: A year without the Ohio State-Michigan game.
PARTING SHOT: “Rules are made up for people who aren’t able to make up their own.” — the late Chuck Yeager, World War II ace fighter pilot who later broke the sound barrier.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.