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Crown Point plugs into spirit of the season

Houses South Court Street participate Griswold Tour Light Crown Point December 12 2013. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media

Houses on South Court Street participate in the Griswold Tour of Light in Crown Point on December 12, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 15, 2014 6:20AM

CROWN POINT — Clark Griswold may have been just a character in the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” but his passion for lighting the night sky with holiday decorations lives on in the city.

More than 500 residents participated Friday in the annual Griswold Tour of Lights, riding Molly the Trolley or one of four other buses for a tour of city homes decorated in true Clark Griswold fashion.

Homeowners vie for the honor of best decorated each holiday season to the delight of holiday revelers. Eight homes and one entire street went all out in their efforts to dazzle they eyes, and in some cases, ears, of those who made the journey to see the homes entered in the tour.

Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted visitors to Candy Cane Lane in Hotlon Ridge, waving as Molly the Trolley made her pass. At 9824 McKinley St., lights flashed off and on to music.

Eight-year-old Ella Curiel, her brother Cal, 10, and their cousin Christopher Childs, 4, all of Crown Point, were bubbling over with holiday enthusiasm as they colored pictures and drank hot cocoa at the Crown Point Civic Center while they waited for their turn on the bus.

The kids and their families are tour veterans.

“We do it because they like to do it. They enjoy seeing Santa,” mom Christine Curiel said.

“Seeing the lights, the lights,” Christopher chimed in, his excitement about holiday spilling over, fueled by the free hot cocoa at the Civic Center. “My favorite thing about Christmas is everything.”

Ella said she enjoyed her three cups of hot cocoa and was looking forward to Christmas. This year she again asked Santa to bestow her with the Star Wars power of “The Force.” It’s been her standing request for the past couple years, and she remains hopeful one year Santa will be able to pull it off.

“It’s not really a present under the tree, it’s inside you,” she said.

Grandma Carol Curiel, also of Crown Point, said the tour gives the family a chance to get together and also helps them identify the best places to go to see the lights.

“You don’t know where the cool houses are until you take the tour,” she said.

Randy Borman and his son Mike, 6, enjoyed their hourlong tour of the city.

“It’s kind of the kickoff to the season,” he said, adding the snow this year makes it seem a little more like Christmas than the last couple years, when there was no snow to be found.

Mike’s favorite house on the tour was No. 4, where the lights danced to holiday music.

“It was pretty cool. I vote for that one,” he said.

Participants in the annual tour each receive a ballot and have the opportunity to help vote for the top displays. Winners will be announced at a special City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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