Alfred Norwood tried to save a man hanging from a rooftop. It was a dummy paying homage to Clark Griswold.


Surveillance video from a Nest Cam showed Norwood run up to the home, screaming, “Oh mister, please hold on!” He grabbed the ladder, ripping it from the display, and repositioned for him.

“Alright, can you reach it? Can you reach it?!” he added.

When there was no response, Norwood shouted, “Help!”

“It looked like a guy in distress needing help, so I took a chance to try to help him,” Norwood said Monday in a phone interview with The Washington Post. But, he added, “It turned out to be a dummy.”

A dummy fashioned after a Christmas icon: Clark Griswold.

“All I was trying to do is help the guy,” Norwood explained.

The spectacle was paying homage to a storied scene from the 1989 cult classic, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” in which Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, lost his balance stapling lights to the roof, slid down and grabbed onto the rain gutters — before ultimately crashing to the ground. Homeowner Chris Heerlein said he and his wife hoped to win a decorating contest for their creativity, not startle a Good Samaritan.

“I was in a panic. My heart was beating so fast,” Norwood said. “I had to struggle to try to get the ladder loose and by the time I got it untangled, I was thinking to myself that he hadn’t said anything. I was thinking he’d been electrocuted.”

Norwood said he tried to wave down some passersby but no one stopped to help, so he dialed 911.

“I thought I was going to save somebody that day,” he said, “and that was the only thing on my mind.”

He said as the sun came up, he started to realize his mistake — one he may never live down. “My wife said it was a dummy saving a dummy,” he said.

Heerlein, 35, said that when the mishap occurred, he was out of town and his wife was busy getting their three young children ready for the day, so neither of them were aware of what was going on; but later, they watched the video recording.

At first, Heerlein said that he felt “terrible” about the incident, but then, “I started laughing out loud.”

They have since put up a sign, reading: “Clark G. is part of our Christmas display. Please don’t call 911.”

All joking aside, Heerlein said, “It’s nice to see there’s good quality people out there.” He said that he and his wife felt so sorry that they invited Norwood into their home and gave him a gift card to show their appreciation for his actions.

Heerlein admitted the gift card was his wife’s idea.

Personally, Heerlein said, he wanted to give Norwood something a little more relevant to their situation: a subscription to a jelly of the month club.


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