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We can't thank Ritz Crackers enough for their sponsorship in 2014. In mid-September, I was contacted by a media group representing Ritz and asked if I would be interested in a sponsor to regain the Guinness World Record which we had obtained back in 2012 on our own. I wasn't that interested in regaining the GWR since we already had done that but I was intrigued on who the sponsor might be and with the chance to work with them. Once I learned it was Ritz, whom I have always loved, I was delighted. They could not have been any nicer to us. In order to facilitate adding more lights I explained that I would have to eliminate approximately 30,000 old incandescent lights and replace them with LED. They agreed to cover the cost of this as well as providing an installation they would have a production company produce. They sent me an artist rendition and we all loved it. October and November were even busier than normal in remaking some of our elements and preparing for the Ritz installation which occurred the week of Thanksgiving. It was great weather on Monday and Tuesday and everything went well. Wednesday of course, was the giant Nor'easter which meant that we had to spend all day Thanksgiving digging the display out to prepare for our event with Guinness and Ritz on Friday. We worked all day and we succeeded on ensuring the whole display was 100% working.

Friday, November 28th was quite a day for all of us. With Ritz, Guinness and a whole bunch of media present, it was a big celebration. Michael Empric, Adjudicator for Guinness World Records declared our display to have the most lights on a residential property at about 6pm. Kim Hart did a great job summarizing our story in one of the songs we added last year and you can watch it here:

Naturally this brought a lot of attention to our display which greatly increased the volume of visitors. We also had consistent requests for media coverage through the first ½ of December and we were on TV stations as far away as Australia and Brazil. Many of these segments are available on our video tab. It was great to share all of these experiences with the kids. The town did a great job monitoring and controlling the traffic. In 2014 a total of $85,392 was collected for various charities including The Children's Home of Poughkeepsie, The Ryan McElroy Foundation, The Ty Louis Campbell Foundation, Domestic Violence of Dutchess County and the Union Vale Fire Department. At the request of Sheriff Butch Anderson, we also did a special night for the two fallen officers of the NYPD and raised over $10,000 in that single night. In 2014, we raised more than we had in the preceding 3 years combined. The total amount raised in the 4 years we have collected donations is $164,580. I never imagined that amount when we asked the UVFD to collect 4 years ago and we feel very fortunate to help facilitate helping those in need during the Holiday season.

We had our 7th and 8th marriage proposal at our light display in 2014.

All of the work we did on the driveway in the preceding summer paid off as our driveway survived inclement weather and an incredible volume of traffic. Following the CBS News broadcasts with Lou Young, the traffic coming up from the city was very high and backed up several miles. Lou was a lot of fun and once he finished the broadcasts was happy to join us for a glass of wine (or 2). We had visitors from all over the country and many told us they came just to see the lights. We also had visitors from other countries. One guy told us he had seen the show on GL1 in Brazil. He said he was traveling to NYC and when he got there he asked someone in a restaurant if they knew how to get to the display and they did and were able to give him directions. We had a group of 4 from Australia, crash our cockpit as they put it – that was a fun night!

In January, we were invited to the 1st meeting of the Dutchess County Legislature who presented us with a very nice commendation for our display – the attention it brings the community and the the support to the local charities. We were surprised when Dutchess County Executive, Marcus Molinaro also presented us with a second commendation which declared 11/27/15 as ERDAJT Day in Dutchess County. These were on top of a nice plaque Sheriff Butch Anderson presented us back in December. It met a lot to me and my family to receive these commendations from our local government, and we deeply appreciate it.