Tatiana Harbeck recalls her husband saying four words that changed her entire Christmas future. Before that, they were simply the proud new owners of a home in Pasadena’s fabled Hastings Ranch neighborhood.
They wanted to make this first Christmas special for their 2-year-old son Thomas and continue the neighborhood tradition of lighting the halls for the holidays.
“We bought some fairy lights, a candy cane or two, a reindeer,” Tatiana said. “(Thomas) loved it, he jumped up and down, it was cute and easy.”
Then her husband said these four fateful words: “We need more lights.”
Seventeen years later, Andy and Tatiana star Harbeck in season 10 of ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight, which airs Monday, December 5 at 8 p.m. on ABC and streams on Hulu. The couple have been fans of the hit decorating competition series for years, and have seen the most elaborate and impressive Christmas displays across the country.
Now they are one of four families going head-to-head in a battle for $50,000 and the coveted Light Fight Trophy. Two participants are from California – Pasadena and Ridgecrest. The others are from Kennesaw, Georgia, and Mesa, Ariz.
The Harbecks created an epic light show in homage to Star Wars that transforms into the ultimate dance party with 3D printed decor.
“You have to tune in to see if we win,” Tatiana said. “We hope to make Pasadena proud.”
Their neighbor Tiffany Gardner encouraged the couple to apply for the January 2021 show. Six months later, they conducted a Zoom interview and filmed their episode last November. Gardner said the Harbecks are unique because they do most of their display by hand.
“You can’t buy their display anywhere,” she said. “Andy is so creative. He designs and makes each piece himself, and Tatiana helps him put it all together. The whole family is involved in setting up the exhibition. Every year he adds and makes the Harbeck Lights Show bigger and better. Best of all, thanks to them, there are more lights on their block. They are a wonderful family.”
The past two pandemic Christmases have been particularly poignant, Tatiana said.
“People called us and asked how much entry was per car and when we told them it was free you could hear how happy they were,” she said. “You could hear them say, ‘Let’s go, kids!’ before they hung up. We’re really glad.”
Andy, an animator at DreamWorks Animation, is the visionary who comes up with designs and plans and shuts down their two 3D printers. Tatiana gets annoyed with finding storage space for all the lights and decorations. Her sons take care of the assembly and dismantling. Thomas, now 19, has just started college at UC Santa Barbara and Martin, 16, is a student at Pasadena High School.
Neighborhood volunteers, including students from La Salle College Preparatory High School across the street, are also helping to build Harbeck Lights at 1215 Tropical Avenue, the brightest house on the block.
“There is no break,” Tatiana said about work. “But when I don’t hear the sound of the 3D printers, I look for them.”
This year’s production features a 17-minute animated LED light show with music. The family chose songs like “The Carol of the Bells”, “Nutrocker”, “Star Wars Disco” and songs from the films “Home Alone” and “Trolls”.
Full neighborhood lighting begins on Saturday, December 10th to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Upper Hastings Ranch Association Holiday Shows. The lighting is switched on daily from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Harbecks give out candy canes some nights to better see people enjoying their labor of love.
“It’s fun to watch people take pictures,” Andy said. “It’s nice to be part of the tradition.”
“They stop us and ask Andy questions, that’s special,” Tatiana said.
Andy has even come up with his own holiday character, Winston the Christmas Wisp, voiced by son Thomas on Instagram. The Harbecks have been dubbed Legends of the Hastings Ranch for their annual showing, all because of her husband’s “crazy amazing” talents, Tatiana said.
“It’s a good madness,” she said. “And we have a good balance.”
Her son Martin inspired a popular selfie spot, angel wings made from 300 water bottles he used during his soccer games. It’s also animated, changing colors and patterns.
That’s a good sign, Andy said, because “we’ll do it until the boys take over.”
Lighting up their home means a higher electricity bill for one person and no vacation for Tatiana’s family in Colombia. But the couple, who have been married for 23 years, said they will carry on as long as their work brightens people’s holidays.
Tatiana recalls driving to the Medellin River in Colombia to watch lights on the water, and Andy once drove around his Illinois neighborhood filming the lights and making music.
“We have a sign over here,” Tatiana said. “Share the love. That’s what we do.”
Of course, Tatiana said that every year she teases Andy that she will get him to sign a contract promising he will stop his bigger and brighter Christmas ideas. Her husband shrugs knowing she will be working with him again next year.
“We haven’t signed a contract yet,” he said, smiling.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/12/02/this-pasadena-families-star-wars-holiday-lights-made-it-to-the-great-christmas-light-fight/ This Pasadena family’s Star Wars Christmas lights made it to The Great Christmas Light Fight – Orange County Register