HOME AND DESIGN
By J.T. Morand,Chicago 2007
Let someone else do the hanging
and the climbing
Clark Gristuold could have saved himself a lot of pain and suffering if he picked up the phone before attempting to put Christmas lights all over his house.
Griswold, the accidentprone dad played by Chevy Chase in the 1989 comedy “Christmas vacation” loses his footing on a ladder after stapling his shirt sleeve to the roofline of his home while putting up Christmas lights. He falls against a tree when he yanks his arm away, tearing the sleeve off the ladder when he pushes away from the tree and hits the house.
His troubles don’t end there. In the same scene, he slides off his house while stapling strands of the lights to the roof. His foot becomes entangled in the lights, causing him to trip. He grabs hold of the gutter, which tears away from the house sending a rail of ice through his neighbor’s window. Griswold lands in the bushes.
His efforts were for naught. Nothing happens when he plugs in the strands of lights with his family, including his parents and in-laws, shivering on the lawn to see the house light up. North suburban residents are taking their cue from Griswold these days as more of them decide not to risk their necks when they can find companies that decorate homes for the holidays.
Now this is as common as hiring someone to mow your lawn, “said Glenview native Kelly Fitzsimmons, owner and operator of Light Up Your Holidays, which decorates more than 100 homes on the North Shore and north Chicago. Homeowners, Fitzsimmons said, don’t want to risk being hurt for the holidays and they just don’t have the time to haul out ladders and strands of lights. Then there’s untangling them and testing them, followed by replacing the bulbs before attaching lights to the house or hanging them from trees. And, the job becomes even more miserable if it’s cold outside. “People just don’t have time anymore to do this anymore,” Fitzsimmons said. “Plus, it’s risky.”
Light Up Your Holidays. based in Chicago. uses a crew of roofers and painters, professionals who are used to working in precarious situations, to wield large ladders and yards and yards of lights. “It’s truly an aim to work with a 40-foot ladder,” Fitzsimmons said. “It’s all about expertise.” It’s also all about technique, said Carrie Erzinger.
She is the holiday decor manager for Kinnucan tree Experts in Lake Bluff, which decorates homes as far south as Kenilworth and as far west as Kildeer. The rest of the year, Kinnucan concentrates on landscaping. Wrapping and draping, Erzinger said crews use two techniques – wrapping and draping – to decorate trees. Wrapping is winding lights around each individual branch of a deciduous tree, which is labor intensive and takes a long time. Draping, she said, is weaving strands of lights around the canopy of a tree.
Time spent doing this depends on the size of the tree. “If it’s a 30-foot spruce, it could be an all-day job,” she said. Homeowners seem to be getting in the holiday spirit sooner, in the fall.
Every year people want their lights up earlier and earlier, said Erzinger, who already had 20 customers call by Nov. 12 this year. Fitzsimmons starts hanging lights in early October and finishes in mid-December.
Variety is the trend this year. Some homeowners want icicle lights to dangle from rooflines. “You’re seeing a lot more colored lights.” Er-zinger added. “Some want three different colors on a tree showing off. Fitzsimmos said holiday lighting is a way for people to show off their homes “Now that I’m in business, I actually feel Like I’m doing something that makes me smile and other people smile.” Kelly Fitzsimmos, owner and operator of Light Up Your Holidays.
This Glenview home’s holiday lighting was designed by Light Up Your Holidays.