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'Extreme Makeover' finishes job for Wisconsin family

Ty Pennington and Howard Huber hug as Huber leaves the limo before the bus is moved to reveal the house.(Bob King/Duluth News Tribune)1 / 3
A huge throng of spectators keeps an eye on any activity around the Huber home early Monday.(Bob King/Duluth News Tribune)2 / 3
Ty Pennington revs up the crowd before the Huber family appears by slapping hands with as many hands as he can.(Bob King/Duluth News Tribune)3 / 3

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Wis. -- Howie and Jessie Huber displayed a classic Midwestern reaction when seeing their new home for the first time Monday -- breaking into wide, shocked grins, but no histrionics.

The Oakland Township family stepped out of a limousine about 6:15 p.m. and into the waiting arms of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" host Ty Pennington. The crowd was silent as he spoke with them, but three takes of "Move that bus!" later, the 2,500 spectators surrounding the new Swamp Road home cheered as the bus finally moved and the Hubers took it all in.

The Huber children, Rosemary, 3, and Henry, 6, wore shy smiles.

Aimee Bandelin, of Superior, had been at the site with her family since 9 a.m., and stayed until the Hubers saw their new home.

"It makes us feel better about the world today knowing something good is going on," she said. "The waiting was well worth it."

The crowd had been waiting on either side of the house behind barricades for more than two hours as final touches were rushed to completion inside. With the sun bearing down, the TV crew kept the masses entertained with upbeat music, dancing and the shooting of staged cheering reaction shots when stand-in families arrived in a limousine.

"Don't worry, the family isn't real, but cheer like they are," the show's first assistant director, Josh Zilm, shouted into a megaphone.

The shot of the Hubers' reaction could only happen once, so producers had to ensure they had other material. The crowd managed to muster frenzied excitement nearly every time it was asked. Pennington executed his trademark run alongside the crowd, giving high-fives to outstretched hands.

Once the Hubers arrived and the bus had moved, the family hugged and shook hands with members of the Builders Commonwealth and with the cast before moving on to the house, surrounded by the ABC camera crew. Pennington led the family -- all holding hands -- into its new yard, and spent several minutes talking to them before finally entering the house.

Many spectators had been at the site of the home for hours. Kendra Serbus, 13, of Proctor, woke up at 6:30 a.m. to get to the site with her friend's family. The group, arriving by

9 a.m., decided to leave before the family arrived.

"My feet hurt," Serbus said, "but it was fun."

The crowd was heavier earlier in the day, but thinned as the afternoon wore on and the "reveal" was delayed. Spectators were turned away beginning about 1 p.m. because "the response was overwhelming," said Linda Nervick, a spokeswoman.

Brad Leavelle of Duluth volunteered during a night shift last week, helping to side the house. He was there to show his kids what he'd been doing, and help them connect the "real house" with the show.

Of the "thousands of people here, they're all excited for someone else," he said. "That's what's cool about this, and that their [the Hubers'] whole life is about to change dramatically."