The 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' crew creates a pyrotechnic display through the roof of C.J. and Lindsay McPhail's old home in Medford on Friday. - Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

'Makeover' has a blast

Volunteers and spectators poured into the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" job site Friday, creating a carnival atmosphere at the top of Coker Butte Road.

Among the visitors were Tony and Vicki McPhail, the parents of C.J. McPhail, whose family was chosen out of thousands by "Makeover" producers to receive a brand-new home.

The McPhails drove two days from Colorado to visit the job site. They had been to the home several times, but say they have no sentimental attachment to the dilapidated cinder-block house.

"It needed too much work," Vicki McPhail said. "They needed a new place badly."

The McPhails have not spoken with their son or his wife, Lindsay McPhail, since the pair were whisked away on a vacation to Aulani Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team leader Ty Pennington, designers Paul DiMeo, Paige Hemmis, Ed Sanders and new designer/comedian Jeff Dye and local builders Ark Built Renovations, as well as community volunteers, build the structure.

Vicki McPhail said her son and his wife deserve the vacation, as the two have worked hard at community projects such as founding the Southern Oregon chapter of the Sparrow Clubs, which helps kids with medical issues by pairing them with schools that "adopt" them.

The couple also have three children, two of whom have autism.

Friday marked the first day the job site was opened to the public. An ad-hoc parking lot along Crater Lake Avenue was filled to near capacity by people eager to watch the crews hammer away on the new home.

Elmer's restaurant donated 500 cheeseburgers and pounds of ice cream to help feed volunteers as the hot day wore on into dusk.

"We at Elmer's just wanted to give back to this community," said Elmer's General Manager Nick Davis. "This was a chance for us to reach out and get involved."

The night was capped by a pyrotechnics show during which the old McPhail home was wired for explosives that blew 30-feet fireballs out of the roof. The goal was to turn the home into a volcano.

The producers lined hula dancers outside the home and handed out torches to the audience.

The fireworks are a nod to the McPhail's son Sawyer, who is obsessed with volcanoes, said his grandparents.

"He is just fascinated with them," Vicki McPhail said. "He talks about how neat they are and does research on them."

The "Makeover" designers fired up the audience before the explosions. At one point they warned of possible flying debris from the roof.

Ty Pennington buzzed around the shoot with a small camera to capture the action.

The new house seems to be coming along quickly. The walls have been raised and crews were working on preparing a roof Friday afternoon.

Spectators must take a free Rogue Valley Transportation District shuttle bus to the site from the Medford Walmart parking lot on Crater Lake Highway.

Buses pick up at Walmart approximately every 20 minutes, beginning at 8 a.m. The last bus returns to Walmart at 8 p.m. Buses run through Wednesday.

Spectators are asked to bring a food donation for ACCESS Food Share. Donation bins are set up at the home site. People not going to the jobsite but who want to donate food can leave it with the bus driver. People also can make a secure financial donation online at Click the "Donate Now" button, then enter "Extreme Makeover" in the Dedication field ("on behalf of").

All food collected will go to the ACCESS Food Share Pantry Network of 25 food pantries. Food Drives have been an enormous success within many other communities hosting an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build. Earlier this year, a food drive in Hampton Roads, Va., collected 406,630 pounds of food, which is the record for the TV program.

Large prefabricated elements of the home will be brought to the site today, too, show officials said.

The Oregon Department of Transportation warns drivers to expect slow-moving westbound traffic on Highway 62 between the intersection of Highway 140 west to Owen Drive today between 9 and 11 a.m. Watch for pilot vehicles assisting a slow-moving oversized loads.

The episode featuring the McPhail family is expected to appear on television in November, producers said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email

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