Her three children always wanted to see their home lit up with Christmas lights.
But Jeannette Freed was a single mom for many years and didn’t have time to hang lights. Plus, they were renters, so she couldn’t bring herself to buy lights for a house that wasn’t theirs.
Today, she’s married and has built a business with her husband — they sell nutritional supplements from home through AdvoCare. The Freeds bought a house in a Belleville neighborhood, and they even have two puppies, which the kids had also requested.
The lights were the last thing they wanted that she hadn’t been able to give them. So when she saw a pair of elves stringing lights on her neighbor’s roof, she thought it was time.
Those elves were Ian Thurlow and Patrick Hulliung, co-owners of World Class Holiday Lighting in Belleville. They’ve been selling and installing lights for two years now, but the costumes — red and green shirts, candy cane striped socks and classic Santa hats — are new.
“This is an easy way for us to add a little extra fun to the work we do, and our customers seem to really enjoy it,” Thurlow said.
They also play Christmas music while they work.
Freed said she decided to hire them because she didn’t know how to hang lights — and her husband doesn’t like heights. But she didn’t tell the kids they’d be getting their wish right away.
I told them that happy elves were coming to the house. They only kind of believed me.
Jeannette Freed, Belleville resident, on surprising her children with Christmas lights
“It was a really fun surprise,” she said. “I told them that happy elves were coming to the house. They only kind of believed me.”
Freed said the kids, who are 5, 7 and 11 years old, weren’t fooled when they saw two grown men arrive.
“My kids thought, ‘They’re a little too tall,’” she said. “I was like, ‘What about ‘Elf’ the movie?’” In the 2003 comedy, actor Will Ferrell plays Buddy the elf, who, like Thurlow and Hulliung, is much larger than the rest of Santa’s elves.
Freed described it as a “magical” experience for her family to have Christmas lights of their own this year. They chose red, white and green ones that are controlled by a timer, so Freed said she doesn’t have to worry about them.
“My kids are just giddy,” she said, and the elves were great with them.
Thurlow said World Class Holiday Lighting’s motto this year is: “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.” And it’s paid off. Like Freed, many customers have hired them after seeing them in action, according to Thurlow.
They recently visited Swansea resident Sonya Del Vecchio to hang red and green lights on her home. She said the elves and music will attract attention.
“I actually had someone come to the door and say it put them in the Christmas spirit,” Del Vecchio said.
It had Del Vecchio feeling some holiday cheer, too. “I think I had my husband go down and get the Christmas decorations from the basement after that,” she said.
If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
World Class Holiday Lighting’s motto
A light-hanging service also meant quality and convenience for Del Vecchio, who wanted to avoid climbing on the roof this year.
“I couldn’t do it myself any longer,” she said. Del Vecchio also knew the elves through World Class Gymnastics, which Hulliung owns.
“Our kids are gymnasts together,” she said. Hulliung is one of their coaches.
Customers can expect a “crisp and clean” finish from their lighting design, Thurlow said.
“We take our time and make them look above and beyond your typical lights,” he said.
The cost of their lights range from $1-$3 per foot. The more expensive lights come with a lifetime guarantee, Thurlow said: World Class Holiday Lighting will replace any broken bulbs. But customers can also buy lights elsewhere and the elves will install them.
Thurlow said the cost is about $400 for the first purchase and installation of lights. They will come back at the end of the holiday season to take down the lights for no additional charge and will provide labeled totes for customers to store the lights until next year. And Thurlow said installation will be cheaper for repeat customers: about $100-$150 the next year they call World Class Holiday Lighting.
There are discounts available for veterans and those currently serving in the military, according to Thurlow.
The light-hanging business is the seasonal arm of World Class Lawn Care, through which they are insured. Thurlow said the lawn business “kind of dries up” this time of year.
“It’s something enjoyable,” Thurlow said of light-hanging. “You get to see a good finished project.”
The pair are still accepting customers — homeowners or businesses — this season. Call 618-960-3508 or 618-978-9242 to make an appointment.