Westerville Man’s Light Display Grows Holiday Spirit, Helps Others

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People have called Rick Hilyard the Clark Griswald of Westerville.

Hilyard loves holiday lights just as much as the character in the Christmas Vacation movie.

That’s why he strings 60,000 of them at his home at 649 Old Coach Road.

The display has roots in Christmas past.

That’s when some Columbus brothers battled it out to have the best lights in town.

Hilyard remembers those days from when he was a boy, and a bright idea was born.

“Could I put up a ton of lights and make everyone happy?” said Hilyard.

Hilyard’s first light display was about 15,000 bulbs strong. It’s been growing year after year.

“It starts all the way back in February, March, April. I get a call from him at 9 at night. ‘Hey guess what I just did,’” said Rick’s brother, Brian.

Rick builds structures and then wraps them in lights. He makes those lights dance to the music that he chooses.

After hours and hours of outdoor work with some family helpers and computer work indoors - the vision becomes a reality.

All of it brings out the kid in the man who designed it.

“Unbelievable, magical, stunning,” said Rick.

He has made it a mission to keep it going, even though three years ago he had to take a break. That’s when he had a heart attack and coded seven times.

The lights were dark that year.

“I tell you, now more than ever, I want to do it. I don't want it to be another year off. I missed not having that”

It’s not just about the bigger and better light display. Rick asks anyone who stops to see it to leave a food donation for the Westerville Area Resource Ministries.

Rick’s daughter helps collect the food while she distributes candy canes.

The donations come to the house and also to the car dealership where his brother works. He’s now well on his way to a 1,000 pound goal.

So now, Rick has a nickname besides Clark Griswald.

They just call him Mr. Christmas.