Alarmed Passerby Mistakes ‘Christmas Vacation’ Display For A Real Person And Springs Into Action

by Caralynn Lippo
Caralynn is a Brooklyn, NY-based editor and writer, with a focus on lifestyle and entertainment content. She has bylines on MSN, HelloGiggles, Business Insider, Romper, Redbook Magazine, and more. In her free time, she enjoys watching (and talking!) about television and fostering dogs through a local rescue.

An unsuspecting man got the fright of his life when he wandered past a family’s elaborate Christmas display.

According to local news reports, the Heerlein family of Austin, Texas, wanted to win their neighborhood’s Christmas decorating contest. They decided to go with decor paying homage to a holiday classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. As anyone who has seen the movie will remember, at one point in the film, family patriarch Clark Griswold slips and comically dangles off the roof of his house while stringing up Christmas lights.

Clearly, this particular passerby was unfamiliar with the movie, because he fully freaked out when he walked past and saw the dangling dummy dressed up as the character.

To be fair, Chris Heerlein did an impressive job putting together the dummy — it really does look just like Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon character! And the ladder Chris rigged to look like it was falling is super realistic. The passerby, later identified as a retired veteran named Alfred, was so concerned that he sprang into action, doing all he could to help “save” the dangling person, not realizing it wasn’t a real person at all.

The entire incident was caught on the Heerlein family’s Nest Cam video. Alfred can be heard shouting for the dummy to hold on and seen trying to straighten out the ladder. He called out for help, then dialed 911. When an officer arrived, the whole thing was straightened out. The family opted to include a sign explaining the situation, to avoid any more unintended frights: “Clark G is part of our Christmas display. Please do not call 911.”

The Heerleins also gave Alfred a gift card as an apology for unintentionally scaring the living daylights out of him — and he was very understanding about the mix-up.

“I was trying to get him down any way I can. Except when I started talking to him, he never said nothing!” Alfred laughed in a phone interview with KVUE. “Then I thought, ‘Oh my God I hope he’s not dead, lemme call 911.'”

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