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Christmas splendor

Many local residents go above and beyond when decorating their homes and yards for the holidays

by: CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Prineville resident Bob Hayden spends about three to four weeks setting up the Christmas lights and other inflatable and wire-framed items that adorn his Yellowpine Road home.

Like many communities, Prineville offers its fair share of extravagantly-decorated homes during the Christmas season.
   Most of them are hard to miss – standing out among the rest of the houses in the neighborhood like a beacon of Christmas cheer.
   The exterior walls become a canvas for an elaborate arrangement of thousands of teardrop-sized lights, the yard an impromptu community of snowmen, Santas, and reindeer.
   As their magnitude suggests, the displays require a considerable investment of time and money to create. And while not as obvious, some of them come from humble beginnings as well.
   “I was a guy who liked tacky – I could always do tacky on Christmas.” Terry King admits. He and his wife Debra live on Loper Avenue across from Pioneer Memorial Hospital. “Then one year, we started buying these blow-up things. Every year we would add a little bit more, and a little bit more.”
   Now every tree is lighted as well as every eave and door or window frame. Santas and snowmen keep company in their front yard with Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy. The display demands nearly two-dozen extension cords to complete. And they aren’t done yet.
   “I’ve still got the roof to do,” King said.
   Prineville resident Bob Hayden traces his decorating roots back to his teenage years when he lived in the Portland area. He grew up in a family that embraced Christmas decorations and before long he took over responsibility for the outdoor lights. But he didn’t stop there.
   “We had a neighborhood and I just started putting up lights for everyone,” Hayden said. “I just kind of kept going and going and going.”
   This year, his home on Yellowpine stands out among several other decorated homes in the area. Red and white lights line the eaves, while strings of multi-colored ones outline the doors and windows. But the yard is where it really gets busy. Open real estate is in short supply with multiple inflated characters standing alongside lighted gifts, trains, and trees as well as a collection of candy cane replicas.
   “I’ll probably keep on adding,” Hayden said. “I kind of look at what I’ve done this year and then next year, I’ll think about what else I want to do.”
   Across town, Larry Jacobsen has decorated his front yard of his home on Southeast Fairview with a variety of lighted wire-framed characters. Reindeer mingle with Snoopy, the abominable snow beast, various toy soldiers, and snowmen. Strings of lights form a more than 20-foot tall Christmas tree with a metal pole at its center, while smaller spiraling Christmas trees line the edge of the yard.
   “It started out small,” Jacobsen said of his foray into extravagant Christmas displays. “I started getting chuckles with it, so I just started growing it each year after that.”
   Decorations of this magnitude take time and energy to accomplish and the occupants of each home approach it their own way.
   The Kings, for example, spent about four days on their display, putting in three to four hours each day. Jacobsen similarly spends about three days on his decorations, but not before some prep work.
   “I spend quite a bit of time out in the shop beforehand getting all the wire frames out, getting them all going,” he said.
   Hayden, on the other hand, prefers to stretch the project out.
   “I usually spend three to four weeks – a little at a time,” he said. “I just go until I get tired.”
   Over the years, each household has stuck with a different strategy for compiling decorations. Jacobsen shops the Internet, finding stuff that is not always available in the Central Oregon area. The Kings stick to the stores as does Haywood, but they probably won’t run into each other as they shop. Haywood prefers to buy new decorations before Christmas while the Kings wait until after the holidays end.
   “We wait until two or three weeks after Christmas,” Debra King remarked. “We buy this stuff dirt cheap. We wait until it goes 90 percent off.”
   One time, they managed to snare a $300 inflatable Santa for only $10.
   Despite differences in shopping preferences, decorating strategies, and home displays, a common thread exists among these and presumably other big-time home decorators.
   “I just enjoy the Christmas season,” Hayden said.
   In addition to decorating his home, he spends the season visiting people who stop by to look at his display. He has even dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out candy canes.
   For Terry King, the Christmas season provides him an opportunity to distract people from the tough times many of them currently face.
   “It’s supposed to be about good will and with everything going on . . . you try to give somebody something to look at, to get their mind off of things,” he said.