If you go…
Gabbert Family Light Show
6 to 10 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays; 6 to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays; 6 to midnight Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve
15 miles north of Craig on Highway 13, turn left onto Moffat County Road 103 after Mile Marker 105
— The spectacular features holiday lighting set to 15 songs, which can be heard through car radios on 107.7 FM. The show will be available nightly through Jan. 11. For more information, search “Gabbert Family Light Shows” on Facebook.
As the sun sets on Craig and Moffat County each night, lights are switched on in houses around the area. For one home, the wattage usage is a little more.
Actually, a lot more.
The Gabbert family light show is available again for the entertainment of Moffat County residents. Following a hiatus of two years, the extravaganza of Christmas lights is bigger and better than ever, with one exception.
“We weren’t able to get a boom truck to put up the big tree, so last time it was 46 feet tall and now it’s 28, but it’s still tall, just not crazy tall,” Clint Gabbert said.
Clint and his family first started the spectacle in 2007, which continued to grow more and more popular thanks to word-of-mouth among locals. Clint’s duties as owner of his own business, The Jungle Pet Shop, prevented him from continuing the tradition in 2011 and 2012, but absence has made the heart grow fonder, leading him to start putting everything together beginning in September.
The drive takes some time, about 35 minutes round-trip, as you head 15 miles north of Craig on Highway 13, then turn left onto Moffat County Road 103 after Mile Marker 105, but the time spent behind the wheel is worth it once you arrive to see the night sky permeated by the whites, reds, greens and blues that make up the show.
The complicated part isn’t the setup of all the trees, poles, arches and other decorations around the Gabberts’ country house — Clint estimates he’s got about 80,000 bulbs blazing this year — rather it’s programming the lighting to sync up with a loop of music.
“This year has the most songs we’ve ever had,” Clint said. “A three-minute song can take me over six or eight hours to synchronize the lights to it. My favorite part of it is when I get the last plug put in, and I’m done with it.”
The setlist includes 15 songs, like the Christmas classic “Frosty the Snowman,” the hymn “Amazing Grace” and techno versions of multiple carols, as well as some tunes that aren’t exactly seasonal but still make for an amazing experience when complemented by a visual display, such as The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.”
Staying for the entire show can take between 50 minutes to one hour.
The music plays through outdoor speakers and is also transmitted on radio frequency 107.7 for those who want to stay in their cars. The Gabberts also bring out items like candy canes and sometimes hot chocolate for the crowds.
Clint’s brother, Austin, said the line of autos in the past has gotten very long some nights in previous years.
“We’ve had cars backed up all the way to the highway,” he said.
Since opening the show to the public on Dec. 14, the turnout has been a little more sparse than expected, but the closer it gets to Christmas Eve, the more people are likely to make the trip up to the Gabbert house.
“In 2009, I think I remember counting 60 cars at once on our county road,” Clint said.
Sometimes snow has been an issue, but the Gabberts are always prepared to pull out anyone whose car gets stuck.
Though there is no admission fee, some people insisted on giving the Gabberts cash for the experience years back, which they decided to put to good use by finding a charitable cause each year, once raising as much as $1,000. Clint said any money brought in will be donated either to Make-a-Wish Foundation or to a family in town that could use a little extra holiday spirit.
For Clint, it’s all about the folks who come out, often night after night, to see what he’s created.
“I love the people’s reactions to it, the joy,” he said.
The joy was apparent on the faces of the Nava family, who drove out Wednesday night to get a glimpse of the lights. Parents Kirsten and Santos and 15-year-old son Mark have seen the show before, but it was entirely new to 10-year-old daughter Maya, whose favorite parts of the exhibition were the arch-shaped pieces that resembled bouncing balls of luminescence.
“I think it’s awesome, and I really appreciate the family doing this for so many years,” Kirsten said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.