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Stumptown Stumper

by: L.E. BASKOW, A far cry from the usual reindeer or snowmen, this light display in the West Hills celebrates another kind of holiday tradition.

Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer that helps you boost your Rose City IQ.

Q: What's the story behind the huge martini glass that has lit up the evening sky in the West Hills every holiday season for the past 30 or so years?

A: Mention 'that martini glass light thing' to just about anyone who's lived in the city for any length of time, and it gets a look of recognition, followed by delight.

The oversize cocktail sign, perched on a stilted two-level house on Southwest Buckingham Court, is just a couple doors down from the historic Piggott's Castle, built in 1892 by Charles Piggott.

The martini glass was fashioned in the late 1970s by Monty Meadows, then a teenager who lived in the house. The sign has grown larger and more elaborate over the years, remaining with the house as new occupants moved in.

Three decades on, the local landmark is enjoying a sudden media frenzy, as not one but two stories about the house have appeared recently in The Oregonian - the first, in an eerie coincidence, on the same day this Stumper was posed.

But the martini glass is hardly the only - or even the oldest - light display in the city. ZooLights began at the Oregon Zoo in 1988, as the zoo tried to boost its revenue.

The Winter Wonderland light show at the Portland International Raceway is billed as the 'Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi,' raising money for local charities each year since 1993.

And, of course, Portland wouldn't be Portland without Peacock Lane, the holiday light display that dates back to the late 1920s along the four blocks of quaint Tudor homes between Southeast Belmont and Stark streets, just east of 39th Avenue.

Homeowners have put on the free show every holiday season except for some of the World War II years and the energy crisis in the early 1970s, when President Nixon and Gov. Tom McCall asked residents to save energy.

Onlookers either brave the cold or enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides that in recent years have been booked before Thanksgiving, according to Sally Moeggenberg, who lives three blocks from Peacock Lane and brings the horses out every year from Scappoose.

'I think it gets more and more popular each year,' she says. 'It's not like it's overly flashy or changed that much. But it's part of people's traditions, and they keep coming back.'

Next week's question: What animal was the first in the Oregon Zoo's collection when it began as the Portland Zoo in 1888?

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