What started as a festive tribute to the classic holiday film, Christmas Vacation, ended up causing panic to break out in one Austin neighborhood.
The Heerlein family—in true Griswold fashion—took decorating to a whole new level this year by recreating a scene from the yuletide favorite, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, in which Clark Griswold hangs from the roof while trying to put up Christmas lights. With ambitions to win the neighborhood’s holiday display contest, the Heerleins bought a dummy, placed a Clark Griswold mask over it, and searched an endless sea of thrift stores for an ensemble that perfectly matched the one Griswold wore in the movie.
Of course, the scene wouldn’t be complete without the iconic ladder tipping over beneath Griswold. Chris Heerlein rigged a ladder to look as though it were falling beneath the dummy.
Believing they’d created a harmless yet hilarious holiday display, the Heerleins thought nothing more of their daring decor. However, one passerby failed to make the connection.
Filmed on the Heerleins’ home surveillance camera, the innocent bystander rushed in to rescue the dummy, whom he believed to be in actual danger. Wanting to save his neighbor, he did what any reasonable person witnessing such an event would do: He called 911.
“He was doing everything he could to get the ladder! And be like ‘Save Clark!’” said Heerlein’s sister-in-law, Leah Wheless, to KVUE-TV.
Following the event, the family posted a sign on their lawn to warn onlookers that Clark is nothing more than an ornament in an elaborate holiday display.
As for the rescuer, the good Samaritan was sought out by the Heerleins to thank him for his concern and for acting fast to help someone in need—regardless of their status as living. As it turns out, the passerby is a retired veteran who, after realizing his mistake, had a good laugh about the whole thing.
“I was trying to get him down any way I can. Except when I started talking to him, he never said nothing!” he explained.
Let this be a lesson to Christmas competitors everywhere: When in doubt, maybe don’t hang the dummy from the roof.