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Serving North Texas Since 1937

CoServ Members light up Frisco for 'The Great Christmas Light Fight'

By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

CoServ plays an important role in powering Christmas lights throughout our service territory. But some Members go above and beyond. 

The Burkman family in Frisco starts assembling decorations in July. By October, they’re stepping around Halloween displays as they hot glue thousands of Christmas lights to the brick and stone façade of their two-story home.

After the last trick-or-treater leaves on October 31, the transformation from Halloween to Christmas goes into overdrive as the 12-foot skeletons make way for light-up snowmen, dogs, a cattle drive and a host of other displays. Once all the yard decorations are out of the garage, the Burkmans transform the garage into a Christmas village with an HO-scale train and, new this year, a working ski lift.

When it’s completed, there will be 81,000 lights covering every square inch of the property, creating a Christmas wonderland that must be seen to be believed.

Over the last five years, the Burkmans have won competitions in their neighborhood and across Dallas-Fort Worth. But none compared with their experience filming The Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC, which was filmed last year and will air at 8 p.m. Thursday, December 2. 

“They’re doing battle of the states so everybody from our episode will be from Texas,” said Jennifer Burkman, a CoServ Member and Frisco resident. “It was a pretty cool experience. We had them here for almost a week and they shut down the street.”

The filming culminated with a visit from the show’s host, Taniya Nayak.

“She doesn’t see it until she sees it for the first time,” Burkman said. “So their reaction is true. We’re excited. We did a pretty cool thing for the reveal and we got to do a setup to turn the lights on.”

Results of the show are top secret until it airs.

Last year they had an estimated 40,000 people stop by to see the display, just judging by the number of candy canes they’ve given out. The top question on everyone’s mind: How much is the electric bill?

It’s not nearly as much as you’d think because 90 percent or more of the lights are LED, which use about 80 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Jennifer said their bill last year was about $500.

Another advantage of the LED lights is that Jennifer’s father, Eugene “Sanpa” Skalskyj can string 45 of the bigger C9 sets together on one circuit, which would be impossible with incandescent lights.

The Burkmans acknowledge that their house does create a traffic jam in the neighborhood for December and they expect that fame will only increase after the show airs. 

They’ve had limousines, party buses and even a full-size tour bus come down their street to experience the amazing lights. Their display has become an annual tradition for many and the site of a few surprise
wedding proposals.

“I want people to come and feel like a kid again,” Jennifer said. “People ask me, ‘Why do you do this?’ I tell them, come hand out candy canes just one night and you’ll see.”

They also accept donations that go toward a scholarship fund and an individual family that needs help. Last year they raised $35,000. This year, they’re supporting a mother who has breast cancer and her daughter, who has epilepsy. And, as in previous years, they will also fund a scholarships for autistic seniors, which is inspired by her oldest son Alex, who is autistic.

“We find a family that we can support, anything that we raise money toward, there has to be a child with a disability involved,” Jennifer said. “And autism is near and dear to our hearts.”

Burkman Holiday Home

Location:   3809 Hazelhurst Drive, Frisco

Hours:  

  •    December 1 through January 1
  •    Sunday through Thursday 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  •    Friday and Saturday 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Find more information on Facebook: @BurkmanHolidayHome

 

Safety Tips for Holiday Lights:

  • avoid using multiple extension cords
  • don’t overload extension cords
  • use outdoor and safety rated cords and lights
  • check cords for frays and exposed wires
  • practice proper ladder safety

 

(1) Jennifer Burkman and her father, Eugene “Sanpa” Skalskij. (2) The Burkmans transform their garage into a winter wonderland with a village. (3) The home in Frisco when it’s finished. (4) Sanpa uses a hot glue gun to secure LED lights to the stone and brick. (5) The Burkmans will be accepting donations for a scholarship and to help a local family.

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