Rick and Linda Paz of Troutdale go all out decorating their home for Halloween and Christmas
Trick-or-treaters in Troutdale know all about the house on Hensley Road. The one that glows with orange lights on Halloween, where scarecrows and vampires and a mad scientist/robot stand guard in the front yard, and a cackling witch and red-nosed clown greet guests at the front door.
That's Linda Paz in the witch costume. The clown? Rick Paz, Linda's husband.
Welcome to the Paz home, also known as 'the holiday house of Troutdale,' Rick says.
Rick and Linda, both 67, decorate their house at 1722 S.W. Hensley Road inside and out every Halloween, Christmas and Easter. It's become such a holiday tradition that people stop by in the summer, when their junior-half-acre of property is filled with flowers, to ask when the next set of decorations is going up.
Even folks who don't know the Pazes know their house. 'People ask us, 'Where do you live?' 'We're the holiday house,' we tell them,' Rick says, and they know exactly what he's talking about.
Rick and Linda have been decorating their home for the holidays every year since 1974, when they moved there. But they've always been decorators.
'We were 19 when we put a string of lights on a little blue spruce in Burns - I remember that,' Linda says.
Then they moved to La Grande, where Rick went to college at Eastern Oregon, studying history and anthropology while working as a meat cutter, and they raised three children. From there the family moved to Hermiston, then to Troutdale, where they bought the house on Hensley Road. Built in 1919 and added onto over the years, 'it was in pretty bad shape,' Linda recalls. 'I had all kinds of plans for it.'
Linda owns a home decorating business, Truly Yours Interiors. Rick went to work for her after he retired as a meat cutter in 1994. 'I'm the brains, and he's the brawn,' Linda says, noting they're mostly retired from decorating other people's homes. But not their own.
'We just like to do it,' Linda says. 'It is our hobby.'
They love to hit after-holiday sales to buy decorations and sometimes find stuff at garage sales. Once in a while people bring them bags of lights.
The gusts blowing in from the Columbia Gorge have taught them to take care with flimsy decorations. 'With the Troutdale winds, you can't just place something out there because it'll blow away,' Linda says.
But the East Wind can't keep the crowds away. Last Halloween the Pazes counted 525 trick-or-treaters at their house. 'They were clear out in the street,' Linda says.
That's a lot of candy to give away, but come Christmas time, some visitors reciprocate by bringing them cookies.
Others pitch in to help pay the Pazes' hefty electricity bill (more than $500 last December, Rick recalls). At someone's suggestion, the couple set out a donation box to collect contributions. Their daughter told them she thought the donation box was tacky, Rick says, 'but a lot of people have been really generous, and it's really helped.'
They usually put up the Halloween decorations by the second week of October. A couple of weeks after those decorations go back into storage, out come the Christmas trimmings.
There have been only two years when they didn't decorate - in 1983, when a house fire destroyed the upstairs of their home, and 1996, when they left town in December for the birth of their first grandchild.
Rick and Linda plan to keep decorating as long as they can. But if they stop, not to worry: Hensley Road now has not one but three holiday houses. The Pazes have inspired their next-door neighbors, Frank and Kathy Eaton, and Linda's sister, Paulette Kuiper across the street, to decorate. 'Both holidays, Halloween and Christmas,' Linda says. 'It's a holiday street.'