Welcome home!

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The wait is over.

Seven days after they were told they would be receiving a home makeover as part of the ABC TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the DeVries family of rural Hayward returned home Tuesday to a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters and a brand new house.

As the crowd, family, designers and host Ty Pennington yelled, “Move that bus,” the bus rolled away, unveiling the house to the DeVries family of five.

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A few of the DeVrieses gasped, and son, Derik, jumped with joy into the air. They then hugged each other tightly, a few times as a family, and then with individual members of the family.

“There’s not one adjective to describe what I saw,” said Grace DeVries, sister of Dirk DeVries, the father of the family receiving the makeover. “It was emotional, and there were tears of joy. I was just bawling.”

Grace was standing in the crowd right behind where the DeVrieses stood in the driveway after they stepped out of the limousine that brought them in. She saw the family’s faces as they stepped out of the limo, waited for the bus to move and then hugged the designers and builders.

Just last Tuesday, Pennington and his TV crew knocked on the door of the DeVries family — which consists of parents, Dirk and Susan, and their three children, April, Derik and Hanna — to tell them about the makeover.

Dirk, 50, works as a mechanic at Royal Sports in Clarks Grove. He used to be a farmer, but a farming accident from his younger years left him without one arm. His family lives on a rural acreage three miles east of Hayward.

Susan, 42, is a music and reading teacher at Hollandale Christian School, and she is known for her artistic talents. She has a heart condition that causes her heart to beat more than 100 times per minute.

April is 17, Derik is 15 and Hanna is 12.

The family’s old house, which Hanna had described as “falling apart at the seams,” was demolished last Thursday, and then skilled volunteers worked around the clock to build the new house in less than 106 hours.

On Monday the keys of the house were turned over from Al Larson — owner of Larson Contracting, the company that was in charge of building the new home — to the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” crew. From then until just before the DeVries arrived back home, designers and volunteers were busy decorating the rooms of the house and making some finishing touches on it.

Larson, who stood in a bright orange jacket with several other Larson Contracting employees on one side of the family, described the scene of when the DeVries pulled up to the house.

He said when the family got out of the limo they stared first at the bus and then at the crowd. With all sorts of welcome home signs, “they had almost the same expression on their faces as they did with the door knock.”

“They were ecstatic,” he said.

Then, when the producers moved the bus, he added, there were similar expressions.

“There were faces of astonishment,” he said.

The family came to see the contractors, and “all five of them couldn’t hug you enough,” Larson said. “It gave a warm, fuzzy feeling that brought tears to your eyes.”

Thinking back over the week with the announcement, the demolition and the construction, he said, the experience has passed like “the blink of an eye.”

After hours of planning and organizing hundreds of volunteers, everything went smoothly and the house was finished around the company’s goal of 100 hours.

“It’s like a really, really good vacation,” Larson said. “Plan and plan for it, and the next thing you know you’re back home.”

Once the DeVries saw the outside of their new home, they were guided inside the home for several more hours of filming.

“It’s unbelievable,” said spectator Dawn Hansen. “It’s unbelievable how they can do this in seven days. If I was the family, the anticipation would be killing me.”

Hansen said she watches the show frequently, and everytime she does she cries.

Despite cold, rainy weather, spectators were eager to welcome the family home and to take part in what many called “a once-in-a-lifetime” event. Many were also excited to see the designers and, of course, Pennington.

Look to AlbertLeaTribune.com Wednesday for more on the family’s reaction. The media is scheduled to meet with the DeVries at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The episode is slated to air in December.