FRANKLIN PARK, IL – As the jubilant sounds of ‘Deck The Halls’ and ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ emanated throughout the chilly air surrounding the countless, slow-moving cars on Addison Avenue last evening, a few miles to the north, thousands of passengers felt as if the holiday season was off to a not-so-jolly start.
The festivities on Addison Avenue were centered on one house; one that is well known for it’s yearly display of holiday lights that feature a level of color and luminescence that can only be described as ‘mind-altering’. This year, the house decided to feature something new: lights and structures that modeled an actual airport.
The house features 19 miles of string lights, 94 separate colors, and over 100,000 individual bulbs. As one of the few holiday light setups in the country that can be seen from space, it is powered by 3 high voltage diesel generators, and controlled by a central, overclocked i7 computer which handles power distribution, error reporting, and of course, the mesmerizing light programming and timing.
However, despite the cheerful families and children watching the bright, colorful lights that feature a runway, control tower, and terminal building, the real-world terminal buildings at O’Hare International Airport were not so amused.
“I have been literally waiting here since 7 a.m. yesterday,” said one passengers, clearly fed up with the situation. “We have been given no information. Two of my flights I was supposed to leave on have been cancelled and now, this.” The passenger said, pointing at the departure board that displayed one word slathered over nearly every flight: cancelled.
“We have had numerous aircraft approaching some of our north direction runways, and they’ve mistaken that house on Addison for the field,” said Douglas Lombardo, spokesperson for the airport. “We made the difficult decision to ground all flights until this is sorted out,” he added.
In total, over 1300 flights have been cancelled. Even people who are used to their flights being cancelled weren’t so thrilled.
“Look, I fly Spirit,” said one passenger, who went by the name John. “I am used to being cancelled and blatantly told my ticket is not valid. But this time, for some reason, it just feels so hostile. It’s like United and Spirit merged and then I woke up in the bed with a flight attendant who works for Allegiant after getting forcibly removed from the aircraft, even after paying for my bag. Something just feels so…wrong.”
Meanwhile, on Addison Avenue, the lines of excited families lined up in their vehicles to drive past the lights was huge.
“Yeah man, this is where it’s at!” said Bob Diego, who drove with his girlfriend to see the lights. “They got the lights, they got the planes. The music. It’s like, the whole package. Our own festive airport, right here,” he said, taking a break to guzzle a bottle of eggnog. “I fucking love this holiday!”
“Yeah my kids love this,” said Ron Johnson, an attorney who works downtown. “What can be better than this house?” Johnson then reached into his pocket and pulled out an AM VHF airband radio, held it to his mouth, and screamed “MERRY CHRISTMAS ON GUARDDDDD.”
As vehicles drove by the house, the eerie sound of low-flying, wide-body airliners was a common occurrence. You could hear them get close, and then immediately throttle the engines up, as if it were a beautiful combination of ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Shit, that’s not O’Hare!’
“That’s another one with a big red leaf on it!” Shouted one child, pointing towards the sky, after seeing a jet climb at an angle not seen since the days of the Space Race. Air Canada seemed to have the most jets that had this happen.
We spoke with the owner of the house, who wished to remain anonymous. “I decided to make these lights into an airport this year in order to bring awareness to hard-working men and women who work in aviation,” he said. “If only they would just privatize some parts of it, and I’m sure many of the delays people encounter would be totally gone.”
Meanwhile, the delays don’t seem to be easing up anytime soon at O’Hare.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at all of the terminals, many of them sprawled out, sleeping on the floor.
“I am doing everything I can do to ensure that those lights at that Addison house are turned off, and that normal operations can resume at our airport,” said Lombardo.
“But first, I’m going to drive by there tonight. My kid has been texting me all day.”
If you have a flight to or from Chicago’s O’hare airport, you are encouraged to check with your airline prior to arriving at the airport.