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Osterlands go Griswold for 'Christmas Vacation' tribute in Wadsworth

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    The Wadsworth Griswold House owned by Greg and Rachel Osterland, 173 Duane Lane, Wadsworth, is officially illuminated for its sixth season through New Year's Day.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    The Wadsworth Griswold House owned by Greg and Rachel Osterland, 173 Duane Lane, Wadsworth, is officially illuminated for its sixth season through New Year's Day.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    “Wadsworth Griswold House” owner and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” mega-fan Greg Osterland uses his annual lighting display as a fundraiser for the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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WADSWORTH — More than 250 strands of lights have transformed a typical suburban home into a holiday showplace Clark Griswold himself would be proud of.

For the sixth year running, the “Wadsworth Griswold House” will welcome thousands of visitors to view a light display that pays homage to the 1989 holiday cult classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” starring Chevy Chase.

“We always encourage people, get out of your car, walk around the house if you want to and take pictures — take all the darn pictures you can,” homeowner Greg Osterland said Monday.

Osterland said that while the lighting display has been attracting thousands of visitors past his Duane Lane home for the past six years, the Griswolds have been a part of his family’s Christmases for decades.

“When I was growing up, Christmas Eve, that is what we would do, go to the church service, come home —no matter what time of night it was — and we would make the trip out to see my aunt and uncle and they would start that movie,” he said. “We wouldn’t get home until midnight, 1 a.m.”

A desire to recreate Clark Griswold’s light display significantly factored into Osterland and wife Rachel’s decision to purchase their two-story home at 173 Duane Lane, Wadsworth.

“It was well before 2013 that we thought of (doing the display),” he said. “In fact, how we picked our house was more modeled after, let’s see if we can get close to the Griswold house and so that is why we said no ranch style, just colonial two-story homes.”

After about five years of collecting lights and making sure to sign off with his neighbors, 2013 was officially the first year for the display.

“Trying to get that many lights is tough,” Osterland said. “Creditors will actually call you if you request too many Christmas lights all at once.”

“I had no idea that was a thing,” he added.

Osterland said that because all his lights are LED, his electric bill only increases by about $30 a month; a stark contrast to Clark Griswold’s bill, which he estimates would be roughly $1,800 a month in additional expenses for the Christmas loving family man.

In addition to providing a pleasant holiday experience for family, friends and passers-by, Osterland uses the lighting display as a fundraiser for the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a cause that is near and dear to him.

“Cystic fibrosis is what I have,” Osterland said. “I am very fortunate with my health being practically perfectly fine, maintaining everything, others aren’t so fortunate so every penny that we raise for this goes right to Great Strides, which we walk every May.”

Osterland said that visitors to his home that would care to make a donation can do so by scanning a QR code posted at the home or by putting their donation in a locked mailbox that is emptied every evening.

While Osterland has resisted the urge to keep adding more and more lights to his home in an effort to keep its appearance as close to the Griswold family home as possible, he does make changes annually.

“We are not going to enhance the amount of lights we physically put on the house, but every year we have added something a little different to the yard,” he said.

The lighting display can be viewed at 173 Duane Lane, Wadsworth between dusk and 11 p.m. nightly until New Year’s Day.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.
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