MULLICA HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Steve Harbaugh started decking out his home Clark Griswold-style back in 2018, but he said he could have never imagined the National Lampoon star Chevy Chase would be there to help flip the switch.
But on Sunday, he was.
Harbaugh started decorating his Mullica Hill home after his father George died. At the same time, he started a nonprofit called George's House dedicated to making sure every child has a toy at Christmas and a home to spend it in. Both the holiday display and the nonprofit have grown exponentially since then.
Chase, who starred in the the 1989 film "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," joined Harbaugh to open Harbaugh's Village, which includes extensive Christmas lights as well as ice skating, games, live entertainment and more, for the season.
"I think it was a coping mechanism for me to plaster the house and not think about Dad, but what it turned into is unbelievable," Harbaugh said.
After outgrowing their neighborhood cul-de-sac and outpacing their goal to fill an RV with toys, Harbaugh expanded the mission of George's House to include transitional homes.
"It's a home where people can stay up to six months," he said. "Displaced families, they can get back on their feet."
Last year alone this Christmas village raised more than $350,000 for that work.
"Just like the Griswold movie, he says it and I say it: What is the true meaning of Christmas? I know exactly what it is; it's giving back and helping others," he said.
Harbaugh Village will be open through the end of December. So far, the organization has given away more than 52,000 toys, and the team is in the process of expanding the transitional housing resources for families across South Jersey.
And while Harbaugh is already thinking about next year, this one will be hard to top.
"Everyone calls me Clark Griswold everywhere I go…," he said. "I feel it's an honor."
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