Clark Griswold of Rocklin transforms yard into ‘Nutcracker’ stage

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Rocklin resident Jeff Migdal said he sees the similarities he has with Clark Griswold from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” With a visit to his home on Charter Road around 7 p.m., you’ll see why. His front yard transforms into a stage where his lights are the main attraction. Using more than 15,000 lights, Migdal, along with Rocklin resident Ken Benedict, have syncronized the lights to the music of Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” which he calls “The Nutty Light Show.” “We did it because I was Clark Griswold a long time before Chevy Chase was,” Migdal said jokingly to a crowd on opening night. About a year ago the brainstorming began among the duo and the construction and syncronizing took about five months, they said. “We knew this would take a lot of time,” Migdal said. But it was something the two were set on bringing to life. A hand-painted, almost larger than life Nutcracker cutout sits on the edge of Migdal’s lawn, while a 24-feet contraption on the other side of the lawn is used throughout the hour-long show to interperate the songs through lights. Two smiling, lit-up Christmas trees act as the narrators, keeping theater-goers informed on the scene changes. And a lit-up outline of a ballerina resembles Clara. The tricky part, Benedict said, was to get the lights to interpret the music. “It was tedious, but it’s creative as heck,” Migdal added. Luckily Bendict works for a lighting company and has assisted in light shows such as one in Old Sacramento, he said. In addition to the light show, attendees are encouraged to bring in canned goods that are donated to the Placer Food Bank. “It was an opportunity to have a lot of fun and to do something good for the community,” Migdal said. In store for those who watch the show are confetti cannons and a snow machine programmed into the show, Benedict said. Part of what triggered the show’s start for Migdal was wanting to give locals a chance to relax for an hour during the sometimes hectic holidays. “People don’t slow down in this world,” he said. “I kind of feel we’re way too busy in this life.” Roseville resident Gemma McKenney attended the show’s premiere and had only good things to say about the show. “It was amazing,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Although it’s Migdal and Benedict’s first year producing “The Nutty Light Show,” they said they plan to make it an annual event. To see “The Nutty Light Show,” bring blankets, canned goods to donate to the Placer Food Bank and a lawn chair to the show, which runs nightly at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. through Christmas Eve. ----- ‘Nutty Light Show’ What: Hour-long light show telling the story of Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” When: Show starts at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. daily through Christmas Eve Where: 4906 Charter Road in Rocklin Cost: Free Info: Bring lawn chairs and warm blankets