Christmas Decorations Gone Wild, for a Cause

What were they thinking? That's what runs through the mind when confronted with over-the-top Christmas displays. You know, the houses so decked out in lights you wonder what their electric bills will be next month. Well, there's often a story behind some of those outrageous displays. So before you write off these gaudy displays, consider that there may be a very heartfelt intention behind.
The Obamas, who have taken some heat over their Christmas decorations to the tune of "Ornament-gate," tried to foster a sense of inclusiveness with the ornaments, as seen in Michelle Obama's video explanation.

That same "giving" attitude is even behind a lot of those huge yard displays, which we like to call: "Christmas Decorations Gone Wild." Here are five you can view from your own computer.

Alek Komarnitsky of Boulder, Co. puts on a phenomenal yard display with more than 20,500 lights and displays that web viewers can control from their own laptops. But this goes beyond an obsession or crazy hobby. The Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac Disease display has helped raised more than $40,000 in donations for research about an autoimmune disorder that his two sons have. All donated funds for those who enjoy the show go to at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research.

William Bottomley uses lights in his High Country Lights yard display in Ennice, N.C. to create scenes such as fountains, snowflakes, and animated deer. He uses his display to collect monetary donations for two local charities -- Willing Partners in Galax, Va. and Solid Rock Food Closet in Sparta, N.C. -- with 100% returned back to the community, he told "They provide food assistance to families in need and, because of the high unemployment rate, the need is greater this year than ever."
Joel Occhiuzzo, of Richardson, Texas, says his family was so poor when he was growing up that they made Christmas trees out of rolled up newspaper because they couldn't afford a real one. That memory drives his passion for bringing some joy to during the Christmas season to underprivileged children in the greater Dallas area. Occhiuzzo offers the youths free train rides on the Holiday Express, which winds around a Christmas display of 30,000 lights, colorful cartoon characters and illuminated reindeer in his backyard. The eight-car train holds 22 children. Nightly from 6 pm - 10 pm, Thanksgiving through New Year's, Occhiuzzo drives about 30 loads of children 10 times around the track. "I don't take any donations from anybody in any fashion or form," he told "It's a free ride. It is about the children."
For pastors Dan and Mary Gromer, their whimsical Christmas Tyme Lighted Gingerbread House in Antelope, Ca. -- with 130,000 lights and tons of inflatables -- provides them a chance to dress up as "Mr. and Mrs. Claus with a cause." The cause is to solicit food and toys for the charity Destiny City Help. The donations are then given to pre-screened families in need who are not being served by other organizations in town, says Mary Gromer. This is the Gomer's sixth year. Drop-off barrels are around town at 10 Safeway stores.
Geoff George is on his way to collecting 2,500 canned goods from donations from people who view his Garden Railroad holiday display in Rock Hill Mo., a suburb of St. Louis County. His display consists of a miniature train that chugs through tunnels and bridges all over his yard. The home itself is illuminated with lighted snowmen, reindeer, and Christmas trees that dance off and on, synchronized to some of your holiday favorites. Local residents can hear the tunes on .

Do you have any Christmas Decorations Gone Wild photos you'd like to share with us? Please send them!
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