‘Brings a smile to my face’

Holiday spirit —and electric bills — skyrocket for some

News Photo by Pamela A. Brunn Jennifer Dowling, left with daughters, Katelyn, center and Kiersten untangle the lights dedicated to the large tree. It takes hours just to get the tree set and then the rest of the lights go up around the windows, doors and roofs.

Awesome! Look at that! Wow! How’d they do that?

Oh, you’ve seen them, the houses and lawns peppered with holiday decorations. The more the merrier, not more than two feet between each decoration.

Actually, we might be in awe of just getting all of those decorations up each year by Christmas, then there is taking down. What a chore.

But not to some.

Bill and Sue Kroll, 528 Long Rapids Road, decorate their entire yard with a multitude of lights, inflatables and giant star and tree. Bill’s dad used to decorate the house when he was a kid, and Christmas was always a “big thing we did from very young,” he said.

He likes to get out all the decorations the first week in November and have them up and running by 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. As he says, “there is no plan involved in putting out the decorations.” Certain lights go on the house and trees, while other lights, mostly LEDs, are everywhere. He loves all the colors.

“People pull in the driveway and I love it when people do that,” he said.

Asked about the electric bill, he said, “Christmas is a favorite holiday and, oh, yeah, I plan for it. It kicks up about $100 a month.”

What do the neighbors think?

The neighbors never complain and Bill encourages people to decorate their own homes.

“It brings a smile to my face,” he said.

Randy and Cindy Hartman live on North Street, where the whole subdivision celebrates the Christmas holiday by adding lights everywhere and having them all up by the first part of December.

Randy says the neighbors are really close and “feed off each other, help one another,” when putting up decorations or assisting with a new display.

Randy said 60 percent of his lights are LEDs.

He adds lights to the house and trees and erects a Nativity scene every year, but he’s adding a new manger.

It’s a “tremendous amount of joy,” Randy said.

Randy also dresses up like Santa Claus and stands in front of his house and he and their neighbors, the Dowlings, hand out candy canes. He said he hands out between 700 to 800 candy canes a year. He said kids love seeing Santa Claus outside and the most precious part of it is that he sees the “light in their eyes” when they see him outside.

He has been dressing like Santa for 22 years.

Dale and Jennifer Dowling live at 172 North Street, next door to the Hartmans. The Dowlings do a light up show with music.

“Some twinkle and some flicker and its chorographed by computer software,” Jennifer said.

Dale starts working on the music and programming in July. It usually takes about a month to program one song and, during their light show, they do about nine to 12 songs each night.

The Dowlings started doing light shows in 2009.

They have around 50,000 LED lights on their property. She wouldn’t share how much their electric bill is, but she said “it’s not bad.”

Every year, they change something new, and their goal is to have each year’s show up and running by Dec. 1.

“Our kids are in college and, with the help of family, it usually takes two weeks to get everything together,” she said.

They run a Facebook page called North Street Christmas Light Show, and many people comment on the page.

Jennifer said the whole point of their display is “how much pleasure it brings” and it’s “a way for other people in the community to enjoy a little piece of Christmas in front of our house and hopefully spread a little holiday cheer. The holidays can be a hard time for some but hopefully for a few minutes they can get lost in our lights and just enjoy Christmas.”

The show runs everyday from 5:15 p.m. till 10 p.m. and on the weekends usually until 11 p.m.

Pam Brunn can be reached at 989-354-3111 ext. 343 or pbrunn@thealpenanews.com.