AUSTIN – All a Northwest Austin homeowner wanted was to win their annual neighborhood contest. Instead, they nearly gave a passerby a heart attack! Earlier this week, the Heerlein family put up a display paying homage to the scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” where Clark Griswold hangs from the roof of his house while trying to put up Christmas lights. They bought a dummy online and put a Clark Griswold mask on it, then scoured Goodwill for clothes that look exactly like the ones Chevy Chase wears in the movie. Chris Heerlein hung the dummy from his own roof and rigged a ladder underneath to look like it was tipping over. But one day later, a passerby saw the display and started panicking, thinking it was a real person hanging off the gutters. The entire thing was captured on Nest Cam video. “Oh mister, please hold on!” You can hear the man say, and he wrestles with the ladder, trying to stand it back up to save the dummy.
We see a story like this at least once a year around this time or during Halloween. Some rascals put up a dummy dangling from their roof and it causes good-hearted people to lose their minds and try to help the dummy. In the past these displays have even caused car accidents. I’m torn on whether or not I like Christmas displays like that one. On the one hand, Christmas Vacation is one of my favorite Christmas movies and I love Clark Griswold. It’s hard for me to hate on anything that pays homage to a great movie like that. They nailed it, too. That dummy looks just like Clark. On the other hand, how much is too much when it comes to a Christmas display? I’m all for lights and wreaths and synching the lights up to Mo Bamba but do we really need to take it to the level where people are pulling their cars over and rushing to the aid of a dummy? The answer is probably no. I love the effort but it’s time to rethink it when people are trying to rescue a dummy.
I will say this, it’s better to have the instinct of, “Oh shit! There’s somebody hanging off that roof! I better help them!” than to have the instinct of, “Oh look those people put up a Clark Griswold dummy on their roof. Those rascals. Well played.” Because one of those times it really is going to be a person dangling from their roof and it’s gonna be bad news if nobody rushes to help. The guy in the video has the correct instincts. He moved the latter and was screaming at the top of his lungs. He’s a hero and should be treated as a hero. He didn’t know it was a dummy hanging from that roof and what did he do? He’s sprung into action. I don’t know what medal we can give him for that but he earned it.