TINLEY PARK, Ill. -- "There's around 200,000 lights out here. I think Santa would approve."
Dominic Kowalczyk has been dominating the Christmas lights game in Chicago's south suburbs since 1996 with the Tinley Park Christmas House.
Ten months out of the year, the Tinley Park native is the owner of a contracting business. But once the holidays are around the corner, he puts together a massive Christmas lights and decorations display for visitors to see.
"We usually start setting up around Thanksgiving, and it takes about two weeks or so to fully set up," Kowalczyk said.
What's different about Kowalczyk's display is that most of the decorations are handmade, including giant lollipops made out of pool noodles, candy canes made out of PVC piping and sprinkles made from colorful hair curlers.
Dominic's mother, Donna Wagner, says Dominic has been interested in decorating since he was a kid.
"It kept getting bigger and bigger and started getting out of hand, and now it's really out of hand!" Wagner jokingly said.
It got so big that in 2013 they won ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight." As Dominic put it, "it is one of the highest honors you can get for Christmas decorating."
Setting up for this display is an all-hands-on-deck affair for Dominic's family, friends and sometimes more than 80 volunteers.
"It's a lot of hard work, but it's really worth it to see everyone so excited about it," he said.
The display itself gets many visitors during the holiday season, even from other states. They keep a large book, or "Santa's List," to see where people are visiting from.
And the Kowalczyk's collect donations for a very special charity organization to them. Together We Cope is an organization in Tinley Park that provides struggling families with financial help, Christmas toys and meals, ongoing food pantry events and much more.
Donations from visitors to the Christmas display go directly to Together We Cope. Last year, they gave over $35,000 in donations to the charity, and they hope to do even more this year!
If you want to see the Christmas magic happening right in the south suburbs, visit the Tinley Park Christmas House at 17321 Avon Lane in Tinley Park, IL. You can visit every night from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. through December 31. And if you miss out on donating to Together We Cope, you can still give to and support their mission online.
Find out more about the Tinley Park Christmas House on their Facebook page.