Long ago, Philip Koch envisioned his home in Santa Claus, Ind., like Chevy Chase’s suburban dwelling in the 1980s flick Christmas Vacation. In the iconic comedy, Chase, the middle-class family’s patriarch, goes wild on outdoor Christmas lights, causing a power outage on his block. Koch wanted the beautifully lit house without the embarrassing side effects. Still, when Christmas came along, Koch jokes, he couldn’t run his microwave in fear of shorting a circuit.
Last year LED lights became a popular trend in exterior holiday decor. Patrons of the Santa Claus Christmas Store, owned by Koch, bought LEDs, touted as energy savers and brilliantly bright bulbs. Koch, organizer of the 1.2-mile Santa Claus Land of Lights Family Christmas Light Adventure at the Lake Rudolph Campground & R.V. Resort, knew using LED lights made economical — and environmental — sense.
With more than 300 light displays used in 11 story scenes, the annual event, which runs from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day, shares the classic story of Rudolph, the underdog reindeer that grew up to save Christmas. Though Rudolph represents the frivolity of the Christmas season, the event reveals the spirit of the season, Koch says: Funds support the Ronald McDonald House, a 10-bedroom “home away from home” serving Tri-State families who travel to Evansville seeking medical care for their children. The event “needs to be about Christmas,” Koch says. “It needs to share the Christmas love.”