Wacky holiday decorations grace Reed neighborhood home

See why neighbors were giddy watching a home on their street being decorated with a flashing disco dance floor, acrobatic elves, sultry dancers, and enough lights to overheat a commercial generator …

Neighbors said the film crew worked for two days to turn this typical Reed home into an outlandishly decorated abode.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In the typically-quiet Reed neighborhood, most neighbors would frown on a home being decked out with over-the-top ornamentation, 40 robotic spot lights, and an amped-up sound system blaring hip-hop music to celebrate the holidays.

But, for two days several weeks ago, what might be considered to be the world’s most overly-decorated home amused neighbors to no end.

“You’ve got to see this,” Charlotte Kotchik, a neighbor across the street from the location, tells us on the phone. “Their house is, well, ‘gorgeous’, in a special sort of way,” she says.

We follow her directions, and find the residential street, a few blocks east of Reed College, crowded with motion picture production gear, including giant lights, huge sound system, and “snow” cloth being rolled out. On the front lawn we see two stages, a DJ booth, disco lighting, and a low-rider sleigh being set up.

It appears as if the shoot is hours away; Mrs. Kotchik agrees to alert us when they’re ready to roll film.

Lights, Camera, Oops
Night has fallen. We get the call signaling us that the production is about to start. We head back to the film set. Four Portland Trailblazers dancers are outfitted with sultry Santa suits, four acrobatic break dancers are attired as elves, and the production crew scurries around making final electrical connections.

Suddenly, the bright-as-day set goes dark. The production pulled so much electrical current that the giant, industrial-size generator overheats and shuts down.

Reed neighborhood homeowners Ric and Carol Zittenfield agreed to allow their house to be used as a set for an Oregon Lottery commercial.

Meet ‘the’ neighbors
While technicians work feverously to restore the power, we meet the owners of the wildly-decorated home, Ric and Carol Zittenfield.

“Welcome to our humble tar paper shack,” Ric says with a twinkle in his eye. “A location scout drove by and asked if they could use our house to make a commercial. It’s for the Oregon Lottery,” he explains.

He tells us the crew arrived the day before the shoot to install the lights on the roof. “They’ve been hard at it since 9:00 a.m. today.”

Carol tells us they might appear in the commercial as actors. “It’s real interesting. I liked the acting. We did lots of takes inside the house earlier today.”

According to Ric, here’s the commercial’s story line: “We’re new to the neighborhood, and people on our street come over to plan how our homes will be decorated for the holidays. Each neighbor describes what decorations they propose for their home. When they ask us how we’ll deck out our home, we shrug, look at each other ‚Äì and it cuts to this,” he says, pointing to their now-other-worldly-looking abode.

The director and cinematographer get ready to “roll film” to capture what was said to be the final four seconds of their commercial.

Ready to roll
As the Hollywood-like lighting again illuminates the set, we meet Charlotte Kotchik, the neighbor who tipped us off about the shoot.

From their front porch across the street, she and her family have an ideal vantage point to see the production unfold. “This is wonderful. It has been fun to watch. The most fun is watching all the crew work.”

Lights! Roll camera! Action! With break-dancing elves, Blazer Dancers, a DJ and Santa’s helper in a low-rider sleigh, neighbors are treated to a brief ‚Äì yet intense ‚Äì holiday show.

The director calls for a rehearsal. The lighting flashes, the music blasts, and the dancers gyrate – perfect! Then, the camera rolls, capturing what should be a great ending to a very humorous TV commercial.

Now, when you see this Oregon Lottery commercial on TV, you’ll know it was shot right here in Southeast Portland, and laugh along with the good natured neighbors who helped to make it.

Hey, Ho, everybody!

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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