Military family in Normal comes home to surprise holiday Christm - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Military family in Normal comes home to surprise holiday Christmas lights on roof

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Surprise red, white and blue holiday lights on the Heuer home Surprise red, white and blue holiday lights on the Heuer home
NORMAL, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

Christmas came a month early for one family in Normal.

The Heuer's came home to find the roof of their home decorated with holiday Christmas lights.

Kara Heuer said her cousin nominated her to a local lighting company that selects a few families of veterans, soldiers and police officers each year and surprises them with free holiday lighting for their homes.

Heuer's husband is the designated Christmas lights hanger in his family, but this year he won't be decorating their home because he's deployed in Afghanistan.  

It's a tradition his wife and children thought they'd have to skip, but with a little help and a lot of love - that wasn't the case.

Derek and Amy Claflin, along with a few helpers, set out in the early afternoon on Thursday to begin prepping for the surprise and were working well into the evening when the sun went down, putting the finishing touches on the red, white, and blue lights when the family pulled up to the house.

Kara Heuer, the only one privy to the plan, was hoping the lights would cheer up her children who miss their father tremendously.

Derek Claflin, a veteran, said "I served three tours in Iraq and know first hand how hard it can be to be deployed away from your family, especially over the holiday." 

Grace Heuer, the oldest of the two children expressed how much she misses her father. "Seeing those lights will remind me of him." she said.

Sydney Heuer, the couple's youngest daughter, was just as shocked when she learned what was going on. She excitedly explained that the lights will make her feel closer to her dad since it's something she loved watching him put them up each year and exclaimed, "When I come home it's getting a little darker and I can see them better and I'll just have the Christmas joy in me."

In the meantime, the kids plan to Facetime their dad so he can join in and be just as surprised.

Illinois soldier Mike Heuer's tour in Iraq ends next year and he returns home to his family in July. 

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