But this really was a big deal. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" visited smallish Neenah, WI in mid-August. When I dropped Ella Numera Dos off at college a week after the onslaught, I got an earful ~ and an eyeful, too.
Residents of this burg, situated somewhere between Oshkosh and Green Bay, got their own eyeful over the 105 hours ~ roughly six days, from dawn until close to midnight ~ it took to tear down the Arboleda family's teeny-tiny (586 square feet) dwelling and construct the mammoth (4,200 square feet) faux-tudor house that took its place on the 700 block of Elm Street.
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" fans will get to witness some of the excitement the family, my in-laws and the rest of the 25,000 Neenah residents experienced first-hand when the episode airs October 17.
Yes, Ty Pennington was there, seemingly 24/7. So was "Dancing with the Stars" star Derek Hough, along with a few of his friends from that show. And rapper Xzibit, too. Mr. Arboleda is a local elementary school music teacher; hence, the emphasis on the performing arts in this particular episode.
The local paper estimates that about 8,000 folks were on hand for the big "reveal," after the family of seven returned from Disney World and Ty exhorted behind-the-scenes forces to "Move that bus!" So many gawkers hung out on Elm Street during the week of construction that they destroyed the lawns of all the neighbors. The show's producers graciously paid to re-landscape all the wrecked properties.
The Arboledas call their good fortune "a huge outpouring of blessings from God." Local tax assessors, though, point out that the family faces future property taxes totalling seven times those they previously paid. And some critics note that a) the new house is way too big for its tiny lot; b) the house won't ever be assessed at its true value, because of the modest nature of the neighborhood, and c) if the show's producers were so inclined, they could have built two ~ or even three ~ smaller, but still accommodating houses for the same price, helping out two additional families in need.
My SIL said she could hear Ty and Company hammering way into the night during that sultry summer week. She took oodles of Superior Snaps of the process, from the initial scoping-out that the builders undertook, to the final day, when the family returned from Disney World. I shot the snap above during what my Chicas term a "drive by" ~ anytime Mom (who would be moi) wishes to see something for herself.
Certainly, little Neenah, WI, has enough memories to last a lifetime. The question, however, is this: Was this extreme makeover too extreme?