Two more Phoenix-area homes to be featured on ABC's 'Great Christmas Light Fight'

PHOENIX - For the third year in a row, some of Arizona's most extravagant Christmas light displays will compete on ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight."

Three Arizona families have been highlighted on the show so far. This year, two more displays in Gilbert and Scottsdale will compete for the $50,000 grand prize and the "Light Fight" trophy.

Take a look at the two Arizona light shows being featured this year:


CHRIS BIRKETT'S WINTER WONDERLAND
Air date: TBD on ABC15

Chris Birkett, 42, has been putting up extravagant Christmas lights for more than three decades and has gained national media attention for it since he began.

His computerized light display, dubbed "Winter Wonderland" and at the time boasting 100,000 lights synchronized to music, was featured on Martha Stewart's TV show, news channels, and in publications.

The display has grown to include a multi-story castle-like facade with 250,000 lights synched to music, an old west-themed Christmas town, a "Frozen"-inspired town, bubbles, and nightly snowfalls.

For those who've lived in the Valley, it is likely to be a familiar sight.

Birkett said his fascination with Christmas decorations started in his childhood, when his mom decorated the tree and set-up a miniature village.

"I used to just sit there with my hands on my cheeks looking at the village," he said. "You could almost imagine [being there]."

What began as a few strands of lights in bushes and along the roof outside his childhood home, soon shifted to his grandmother's home where he added more lights, eventually making its way to his own home.

"I loved electricity. I loved lights [and] sounds," he said.

He said he was inspired by the magic that Walt Disney's Disneyland amusement park exudes, something he wanted to emulate with his show.

"I wanted to create a destination," he said.

While the technology has changed over the years, his love for lights has not.

"I'm 42 years old. I'm out there building...I swear there are times it zooms me back. This is not any different than how I started. I feel exactly the same."

He said producers reached out to him to be on the show for the first couple seasons, but it either was not the right time, or there were schedule conflicts. Now, it was the right time, he said.

Birkett declined to discuss any details about the show's production -- when it was filmed or how it was filmed -- but said it required "20-hour days" on his part to get everything ready.

For him, it isn't about the competition or the prize money. He likes that the show showcases families who have a passion for their displays.

"I look at competition totally different," he said. "I want the inspiration because when I'm too old to do it, I want to get in my car and see [their lights]."

WHERE TO SEE IT:

The lights will be on Dec. 1-31 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The address is 8414 E. Valley Vista Dr., Scottsdale, Ariz. 85250.


THE RICHINS' FAMILY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Air date: Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. on ABC15

Chad Richins, a bank analyst, has been programming and putting up Christmas lights for 10 years.

His home in Gilbert is outfitted with nearly 100,000 lights, Christmas trees, and animated hoops all synchronized to holiday songs.

With over 30,000 channels (commands that tell which lights to turn on and when), it's a process that takes hundreds of hours to program. Richins estimated it takes 100 hours to code a single song.

His show has 13 songs.

Richins said the show reached out to him last season, but he declined because he wanted to add in more elements and was not sure he'd be able to finish before the show had to start filming.

The show reached out again earlier this year, he said, and after a couple of interviews, the news was confirmed that he would be competing.

"We were pretty excited" and a little apprehensive, he said, considering neighborhood traffic will likely increase after the premiere episode airs Monday, Dec. 4 on ABC15.

WHERE TO SEE IT:

The lights are on now and will run through December. The address is 396 W. Liberty Lane, Gilbert, Ariz. 85233.


ARIZONA HOMES ON 'GREAT CHRISTMAS LIGHT FIGHT'

Arizona has had a handful of homes featured on ABC's Christmas show.

Christmas on Comstock (Gilbert): The Gilbert neighborhood display is made up of 110,000 lights over 13 houses that have been synchronized to music. It was featured on ABC's show in 2015 and, spoiler alert, took home the grand prize! More information.

Taylor Family (Ahwatukee): Kim Taylor's display has more than 300 hand-carved cutouts featuring Disney characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Nemo and Bruce from Finding Nemo. It was featured on "The Great Christmas Light Fight" in 2016.

Preston Family (Kingman): David Preston's Kingman home has more than 270,000 lights all synchronized to holiday songs. With some help, it takes about 30 days to set everything up. His home was featured on the show in 2016 as well.

"The Great Christmas Light Fight" premieres Monday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. on ABC15.

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