Pavilion family delights neighbors with 'Christmas Vacation'-inspired display

Jesse Coots, his family and "Cousin Eddie" (WHAM photo)

Pavilion, N.Y. – Christmas comes with certain traditions – family suppers, presents under the tree...

...and for some, those traditions include Christmas movies.

Among the classics of the season – “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” to name a few – stands a slightly more offbeat entry: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

It’s this piece of yuletide cinema that’s become a staple in Jesse Coots’ family. The Pavilion dad says he and his loved ones screen the Chevy Chase-starring feature annually.

“We watch the movie ever year,” he tells 13WHAM. “We love it.”

And it was this movie that provided Coots with inspiration.

“We got joking about how the movie goes, and how they uproot the Christmas tree and all that jazz,” he said. “We like to laugh around here, so I was sitting around one day, just screwing around and looking for station wagons, and we found this one, and it’s got 33,000 original miles.

“I kind of surprised the wife and the kids and made a deal in the middle of the night, and this guy brought it out,” he continued. “Bought it, and we uprooted a Christmas tree with a couple of friends of mine and tied her up, strapped it up, Chevy Chase-style.”

The Coots family had intended for theirs to be an inside joke – but they couldn’t contain their neighbors’ glee.

“Really, it was just going to be between us, then a couple people posted videos of us driving through town, and the community kind of laughed,” said Coots.

Their project evolved into a full-on tribute to “Christmas Vacation” – including a greased-up sled, tangled lights and an old camper.

And then, there was Cousin Eddie. No, Randy Quaid is not reprising his iconic role for this display. But Coots has put up a mannequin dressed up like Ed, and it’s been quite a hit.

“We’ll be in our house, and you’ll hear voices, and it’s like, ‘What is that?’” said Coots. “You’ll look outside, and there are four, five people standing outside, next to Cousin Eddie.”

“There’s been a couple provocative poses with Cousin Eddie,” he added, “and all kinds of good humor.”

And that humor, says Coots, is what the display is all about.

“Every night, there’s cars pulling up, and I like it because they’re here to laugh, and that’s what we like to do, is laugh,” he said. “It’s good for your heart.”

“I have gotten so many nice phone calls and emails and text messages about how it’s brightened people’s spirits and made them laugh,” he said, “and a lot of people have told me they get on Facebook every day to see what kind of nonsense we’re up to with this.”

Will it be a Christmas tradition? Coots isn’t sure – but he says, if it is, his kids will be on board.

“I build custom cars for a living,” he said. “You’d think, all the great cars I have, they would love some of the hot rods. They love this stock station wagon more than anything. They don’t want it to go!”

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