With Their Daughter Suffering Addiction, Maryland Parents Use Light Show to Raise Awareness

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It has become a family tradition for many in Harford County, Maryland: visiting the Kurtz family light show during the holidays.

“We probably get 80-100 cars a night and definitely 1,000 every season to our quiet, small court,” Helen Kurtz said. “We want everyone to leave happy, leave in the Christmas spirit.”

Her husband Jim, is the brains behind the operation. He has perfectly timed 25,000 lights to 10 Christmas songs. He’s appropriately earned the alias ‘Clark Griswold.’

“It just comes with the territory,” Jim said.

This year is special. Their daughter Caroline is in town.

“It’s really great to see her. She’s doing really well,” Jim said.

“To see the lights, it makes me cry every time but it’s nice. It’s good to know they are so supportive,” Caroline said.

Supportive of her these last years she’s struggled with addiction, taking her fight to the public. Since 2015, they’ve dedicated a song in the light show to her to raise awareness about addiction. This year, it’s ‘This is Me’ from the movie The Greatest Showman. Before the song plays, a message is read on the radio station for the display.

“Our daughter Caroline struggles with the disease of addiction. Over the past 7 years, she’s been in 22 recovery facilities across 4 states. Unfortunately, she continues to relapse. This Christmas, we ask that you take a minute to pray for the thousands of recovering addicts in our community. Chances are you know someone in recovery,” the recording said. “Don’t judge them or make them hide away. Show them kindness and compassion. They are brave warriors who fight every day to take back their lives.”

“Because I’m an addict, because I’m an alcoholic, it doesn’t make me a bad person. We’re not bad people. We have a bad disease,” Caroline said.

They hope that as this show gets people into the Christmas spirit, it also helps break down the stigma.

“It’s something that’s plagued this county; it’s plagued this whole country, but you can survive it. You can heal,” Helen said.

Caroline’s journey is proof: she’s sober and in recovery and hope this show can help others heal too.

“For another addict, I would just say what was told me is it’s not about how many time you fall, it’s about how many times you get back up,” Caroline said. “And for a parent, don’t hate your kid. It’s not that it’s not our fault. It’s just that we’re just as scared as the parent is.”


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