By: Julia Deng
MIDLAND - 5600 Ashwood Court, the home of Ricky and Lucy Thames, has received national attention for its extravagant display of Christmas lights.
The Thames family competed this year in ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight."
Although they didn't walk away with the $50,000 grand prize in the season finale, which aired Monday, Ricky said it "felt amazing" to continue their annual tradition of spreading holiday cheer throughout the Basin.
Their Christmas light displays have now lit up the Grassland Estates neighborhood for 17 years, becoming a holiday destination for hundreds of families.
"Every year, it's just gotten better and better, and this is the best I've ever seen it," said Meagan Coots, a former neighbor who now lives in Fort Worth. "We moved across the street from them in 2005, and I've watched [their annual light displays] just get bigger and more incredible every year."
Coots stopped by the Thames home on Christmas Eve to personally thank Ricky for continuing one of her "favorite holiday traditions."
"I love coming home because I get to see what he's done new every year," she said.
Neighbors described this year's display as "going above and beyond basic Christmas lights" and resembling "more of a holiday production."
The front yard of 5600 Ashwood Court and the exterior of the house were decorated with more than 81,000 light bulbs, connected by 415 extension cords and lighting up the neighborhood with a combined total of 250 amps of power.
Thames estimated it took more than 550 hours to build and install the display.
"Everyone drives by on Christmas Eve, and the Christmas spirit is just out of control," said Coots.
For Thames, using the popularity of his family's light display as "an opportunity to give back" is the most important part of that Christmas spirit.
He set up a donation box for money and non-perishable food items in his front yard, and plans to donate 100 percent of proceeds to the Jubilee Center of Midland.
"Every year, he donates money and food," said Sheryl Jonas, a Jubilee Center Board Member who volunteered to greet visitors and collect donations in front of his house.
"It is wonderful, what he does. We have already collected close to 800 pounds of food [as of 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve]."
The Jubilee Center will continue collecting donations outside the Thames home through the night of December 31.