‘Crazy Christmas Lady’ Doles Out $45,000 For Holiday Decorations Every Year

With more than one million lights, three miles of extension cords, and a $3,500 a month electric bill, she hopes to win ABC's 'The Great Christmas Light Fight.'

A holiday light display.
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With more than one million lights, three miles of extension cords, and a $3,500 a month electric bill, she hopes to win ABC's 'The Great Christmas Light Fight.'

In the classic holiday movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Chevy Chase’s character of Clark Griswold is bound and determined to have the most impressive and festive seasonal display ever. He tries valiantly, failing every time until the very end.

One family in Florida has been giving Clark Griswold a run for his money with their holiday light display. Michelle Sowell, 54, and her hubby Terry, 72, spent $45,000 this winter on holiday decorations, including thousands of lights and 3.5 miles of extension cords.

It takes at least three months for them to create the Christmas display. She hopes to keep their electric bill a bit lower than last year, which ran upwards of $3,500.

“The power company loves me this time of year. They think I’m crazy because I just make it happen somehow,” she told People.

The couple — along with daughters Ashlie Abbott, 33, and Tiffany Bonner, 31 — decorate approximately 15 acres of the family’s massive Milton, Florida, farm for the month-long event called Sowell’s North Pole Christmas Light Display.

It isn’t just Christmas lights that they drape across their property, though. They offer train rides, create carnival and beach scenes, a “religious” area — and a huge snow-themed area, People shared.

“They all call me the crazy Christmas lady!” Sowell told People, adding that she loves watching enamored families drive through her decorated farm. “It makes me feel good, it makes all the work that we’ve done for months worthwhile. To see the kids get aboard the trains and point and ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ and scream and yell, that’s what makes it worthwhile. That’s what it’s all about.”

Visitors drive onto the farm under a light-filled sign announcing that they’ve entered the “North Pole.” They meet Santa, play with zebras, horses, a camel, and a kangaroo.

Michelle grew up on the farm with parents who decorated the farm for the holidays, but not quite to the extent she does. It’s become a tradition for the family — and for guests. Approximately 50,000 people drive through the farm.

“I decorated a lot as a child with my parents and my sister and as I grew older I just kept carrying it on myself,” she told People. “I made it a lot bigger every year and it just kept growing and growing until it got out of control. It’s really, really big now.”

The Sowells’ crazy Christmas adventures have been recognized by TV network ABC, which invited the family to compete on their show The Great Christmas Light Fight — a competition where families across the country showcase their holiday displays in the hopes of winning a trophy, and a $50,000 grand prize. Their episode will air next season.

If the Sowells were to win, guess what they’d buy with their prize money? A giraffe.