Actually, it took several takes for the home crowd to get the big moment just right for producers of TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”


The voices swelled to a feverish pitch, consuming the once-peaceful neighborhood with thousands of primal calls. More than 3,000 people were chanting and bobbing, a sea of neighbors and volunteers. Then they stopped, silenced by microphone-wielding producers.

False alarm.

This was TV, after all. It took several pulse-pounding rounds of “Move that bus” before the seemingly unscripted moment of revelation, when a local family would stare in awe at the brand new home on the spot where their old one stood a week earlier.

But the crowd didn’t seem to mind. To the legions of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” fans at Monday’s big reveal, the repeated takes were chances to rev up their vocal cords as they awaited the arrival of the Hill family and host Ty Pennington at 148 William St.

Onlookers witnessed a spectacle of Hollywood proportions as the Hill family walked into the stunning white house with black trim and wraparound porch that program their 150-year-old home. The Geneva episode will air this fall, as the Emmy Award-winning show begins its sixth season on ABC.

Producers and flashbulbs aside, the moment was real to diehard followers like Denise Cruz, who kept an eye on the progress all week. Like others in Geneva, Cruz has witnessed the impact Tim Hill has made on the community as a coach; the veteran boxer coached her son in both boxing and football. It was his efforts as a boxing coach, free of charge to local youths, that drew the attention of “Extreme Makeover” producers, who landed at the site on Aug. 18 with just seven days to rebuild a new home, a pool and a gym fit for local boxers.

“They’re real nice people,” she said of the Hill family — parents Tim and Michelle, kids Justina, Jacob and Jayden Hill, and Aleem Whitfield, for whom the Hills act as legal guardian. “I can’t think of anyone better who’d deserve something like this.”

Producers sequestered the Hill family, shuttling them from their limo to photo ops and, finally, into their new home. Amid the mania, they weren’t available for comment on Monday.

Cruz made it her mission to convince her employer, Olympia Sports, to donate fitness equipment for the training facility behind the new Hill home. Like dozens of other local businesses, the store pitched in. Generosity wove through all aspects of the transformation, which took place while the Hill family lounged on the beach in Cancun, Mexico.

Even before crews descended upon Geneva, volunteers had overwhelmed the online queue set up by Mahoney Design and Build Inc., the Canastota-based company spearheading the project. In the end, some 400 to 500 volunteers skilled in various trades put the house together, said building foreman Jeff Dingman.

“Everybody was working right together hand in hand,” he said.

That spirit extended to another home in Geneva, a Habitat for Humanity project underway in the city. Surplus siding, tools and sheetrock from the William Street makeover were donated to the project, the third Habitat home in the city and 11th in Ontario County. The house won’t go up in the flurry that the Hill home did, but organizers are planning a “Blitz Week” Sept. 6 to 13 to raise the home, according to a release.

Makeover volunteer Sam Stamps watched as the last pieces came together on Monday afternoon.

“It’s been phenomenal,” he said. “Just phenomenal.”

There wasn’t much time for sleeping, said volunteer Dawn Nicole Johnson, a Rochester resident. But the thrill of the team effort more than made up for it, said Johnson, who helped build a sidewalk, put together the gym, clean the basement and even serve breakfast throughout the week.
An exhausted Renee Lane, spokeswoman for C&S Companies, which partnered with the Mahoney Design, marveled at the looming white home before her.

“They pulled it off,” she said, referring to the countless builders, designers and volunteers. “I’m just blown away by them.”

Contact Margaret Poe at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 322, or at