Val, Ryan talk all things Christmas on 'Windy City Weekend'

Plus, will the Chicago Bears beat the Buffalo Bills this weekend? Check out Ryan's prediction

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, December 23, 2022
Val, Ryan talk all things Christmas on 'Windy City Weekend'
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Val and Ryan talked about all things Christmas on "Windy City Weekend."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Windy City Weekend!

On Friday, Val and Ryan talk about all things Christmas, and debate when a young adult in the family is too old to keep getting gifts like the kids.

Ryan showcases his dad's annual, spectacular Christmas lights display and the joy it brings to his neighborhood.

Plus, if you have a real Christmas tree, how do you keep it looking fresh? Well, some people think 7UP can help with that!

And a recent survey asked people who they're more like this season, Santa, Scrooge or the Grinch. Who are you like?

Tinley Park Christmas House

Dominic Kowalczyk has been dominating the Christmas lights game in Chicago's south suburbs since 1996 with the Tinley Park Christmas House.

"There's around 200,000 lights out here. I think Santa would approve," said Dominic Kowalczyk, who has been dominating the Christmas lights game in Chicago's south suburbs since 1996 with the Tinley Park Christmas House.

Ten months out of the year, the Tinley Park native is the owner of a contracting business. But once the holidays are around the corner, he puts together a massive Christmas lights and decorations display for visitors to see.

"We usually start setting up around Thanksgiving, and it takes about two weeks or so to fully set up," Kowalczyk said.

What's different about Kowalczyk's display is that most of the decorations are handmade, including giant lollipops made out of pool noodles, candy canes made out of PVC piping and sprinkles made from colorful hair curlers.

Dominic's mother, Donna Wagner, says Dominic has been interested in decorating since he was a kid.

"It kept getting bigger and bigger and started getting out of hand, and now it's really out of hand!" Wagner jokingly said.

It got so big that in 2013 they won ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight." As Dominic put it, "it is one of the highest honors you can get for Christmas decorating."

Setting up for this display is an all-hands-on-deck affair for Dominic's family, friends and sometimes more than 80 volunteers.

"It's a lot of hard work, but it's really worth it to see everyone so excited about it," he said.

The display itself gets many visitors during the holiday season, even from other states. They keep a large book, or "Santa's List," to see where people are visiting from.

And the Kowalczyks collect donations for a very special charity organization to them. Together We Cope is an organization in Tinley Park that provides struggling families with financial help, Christmas toys and meals, ongoing food pantry events and much more.

Donations from visitors to the Christmas display go directly to Together We Cope. Last year, they gave over $35,000 in donations to the charity, and they hope to do even more this year!

If you want to see the Christmas magic happening right in the south suburbs, visit the Tinley Park Christmas House at 17321 Avon Lane in Tinley Park. You can visit every night from 5 to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31. And if you miss out on donating to Together We Cope, you can still give to and support their mission online.

Find out more about the Tinley Park Christmas House on their Facebook page.

Malort Eggnog Soft Serve

"Deliciousness...if you're psychotic."

More than 300 people RSVP'd on Facebook to attend the "Malort Eggnog Soft Serve Day" at Epic Deli in McHenry.

Dressed in a Santa suit, co-owner Tyler Wildey said between 20 and 30 folks waited outside for the event to start and about 100 were served in the first hour.

"We had to fill these machines like four times," said Wildey. "We couldn't handle doing it for an entire week because it is insane in here."

Wildey said he thought it would be fun to churn an eggnog soft serve for Christmas and combine it with Jeppson's Malort, Chicago's infamous, Swedish-style liquor made with pungent wormwood.

"People say it tastes like dandelions, garbage, and gasoline," said Wildey. "It's got a real bad flavor."

Ian Philpot braved the lines to try the soft serve along with family members.

"Malort tastes like if you were making an alcohol and you took some old gym socks, stuffed them in there, and just let it sit," said Philpot.

Epic Deli often makes ice cream using spirits with use of its Below Zero Soft Serve Machines. Their Malort eggnog was served as a sundae at the event, topped with Malort infused whipped cream and caramel sauce. Wildey said that the soft serve takes on its own flavor when combined with the alcohol and eggnog.

"It's going to be a less offensive version of Malort when you mix it with something that sweet," said Wildey.

"This is definitely worth the wait and standing in line for," said Andrew Mate, who wore a Jeppson's Malort T-shirt to the event and ate the soft serve with a grimaced face. "It's the caramel sauce; it's so concentrated."

Mate's wife Amanda wore Jeppson's Malort Christmas ornaments as earrings to Epic Deli and almost finished an entire sundae.

"It is amazing," said Mate. "Deliciousness...if you're psychotic."

For more information on Epic Deli and their special events, visit the deli's Facebook and Instagram pages.

Roeper's Top 5 Scariest Christmas Movies

Richard Roeper reveals his top 5 scariest Christmas movies.

5. "A Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993)

No. 5 is Tim Burton's classic, "A Nightmare before Christmas."

4. "Gremlins" (1984)

No. 4 is "Gremlins," the popular horror film with a smaller than expected monster.

3. "A Christmas Carol" (1951)

No. 3 is the 1951 version of "A Christmas Carol."

2. "Better Watch Out" (2016)

No. 2 is a recent "Home Alone-" style movie with a horror aspect called "Better Watch Out."

1. "Black Christmas" (1974)

No. 1 is "Black Christmas," a movie about a group of sorority sisters who receive mysterious phone calls while on Christmas break.

Bear-ly Accurate

Will the Bears beat the Bills this weekend?

There's only a few games left in the Bear's season, but sadly even the spirit of Harry Caray himself couldn't bring them enough luck against the Eagles.

For this week's game against the Bills, Ryan has enlisted the help of two young football players for a kick-off competition. Can either of them bring a Christmas miracle for the Bears?

Tune in each Friday for a new prediction, and make your own list to see if you can beat Ryan's record this season!

Countdown Chicago 2023 Dance Submission

Every year, Terrell Brown and Cheryl Scott ring in the New Year with a spectacular dance. And this year, you can join them!

Get out your best moves and submit a dance video of you or your family and friends. You might have a chance to see your dance video on our Countdown Chicago 2023 live New Year's Show, on ABC7 Chicago, Dec. 31 at 11:25 p.m.