North Huntingdon family lights way for Dream Team
A North Huntingdon Township family's tradition of transforming their house into a Christmas light spectacular for charity enters its fifth year.
Tim Harff flicked the switch on his estimated 20,000-dancing-light display on Saturday at 1907 Bernice Drive in the Markvue Manor section of the township.
He was accompanied by officials from White Oak-based Jamie's Dream Team, a nonprofit dedicated to making dreams come true for the sick and injured.
The Harff family collected donations for Circleville Volunteer Fire Department and Ronald McDonald House in previous years.
Last year, they raised almost $2,000 for the Dream Team.
“This is the second year that these wonderful people have donated their house to support our foundation,” founder Jamie Holmes said. “They're absolutely amazing. They have stuck by us from day one. Anything that we've needed, even off season, they're there. That family truly believes in Jamie's Dream Team.”
The Dream Team was founded by Holmes in 2005.
Harff learned about the organization after Holmes helped a friend, Brandon Lewis, years ago. Lewis died Jan. 21, 2009, at the age of 21 after a long battle with leukemia.
“I like what she's done in the community, and I think (hers is one) of the best organizations in the local community that we can donate to,” Harff said. “We were able to raise just over $1,900 last year, and we hope to increase it this year.”
Harff said he doubled the lights on the mega tree, added two new songs, a few more lights to the house and additional yard decorations, and used about a mile of extension cords.
The new songs are “Carol of the Bells” and Mariah Carey's “Where Are You Christmas?” The majority of the music is from Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Harff, a former Norwin High School stagehand, got into lighting at a young age. He said a friend introduced him to the music of TSO, and that sparked an idea.
“I've always been a Christmas buff,” Harff said. “After seeing their shows, I really wanted (to put on a show). If I was doing something like this to attract people, why not try and make it toward a good cause?”
Harff said the display takes about a week and a half to set up with help from family and friends, and programming the music takes about 60 hours. He tries to get his lights through after-Christmas sales, and every year the display grows into something bigger than before.
A large donation mailbox stands outside the residence awaiting monetary contributions from visitors and passersby.
“We appreciate all the support the community's given over the past couple years,” Harff said.
“We want to thank everybody else for participating in this as well,” Holmes added. “The money's going to help us make dreams come true.”
Lights are on Sundays through Thursdays from 5:30-10:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30-11:30 p.m.
More information about Jamie's Dream Team is available at www.jamiesdreamteam.myfastsite.net. Monetary donations to Jamie's Dream Team can be sent to 2023 Cypress Drive, White Oak, 15147.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.