’Tis the season to light up the neighborhood with reindeer, Santa and maybe a flying pig. These are a few of the creative displays found this year around the community, among many others that are shining with holiday merriment.
The Durango Herald brings you three stories of residents who decorate in their own way, including Chris Caldwell, who is blind but still enjoys the “oohs” and “aahs” from passers-by; Fred and Wendy Wolsleger, who have a lighting display synchronized to music; and Sandy Burke, who makes her own decorations.
Though Caldwell can no longer see the bright glow of his inflatables, with his family’s help, he still assembles a sparkling display.
“Being I’m handicapped, there’s not much I can do to help the community. It’s something I do people can appreciate,” he said.
Caldwell has been losing his eyesight slowly since he was about 30 to a hereditary disease. Now in his 60s, Caldwell, has been totally blind for two years, and his seeing eye dog, Ernie, helps him get around.
“He’s really helped me get out. He’s not much help putting stuff up,” Caldwell joked.
Caldwell still helps his family putting up net lights on the bushes and setting out candy canes around the edge of the display at 1932 Forest Avenue.
He began decorating 11 years ago when his daughter, Charlotte, was born. He has built the display every year, by reinvesting Christmas money on decorations.
One year, he recalled fondly, a Jeep drove by his house in a snowstorm, and children in the backseat rubbed circles through the foggy windows to see the display.
“The joy on their faces kind of cheered me on,” he said.
That same yuletide feeling encourages him, even though decorating is bit harder.
“I can just hear the little ones ooh and aah, and they get all excited,” Caldwell said.
If you happen to stop by his home, Caldwell hopes you find a little inspiration to deck your own halls with a few lights.
An animated Christmas
Bringing their county neighbors cheer inspires Fred and Wendy Wolsleger to put in extra effort to their display.
At the Wolselgers, an animated display is synchronized to go with a selection of songs, including “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time Year,” while you sit snugly in your car.
The music is broadcast by computer on 92.3 FM, an unclaimed frequency.
It takes about 24 hours to assemble the display, but it’s all Christmas fun to the Wolslegers who live about 30 minutes north of town on Misty Mountain Drive.
They have been developing their display for years, and they aren’t done yet – next year, elves will join Santa.
“We’ve got to shoot higher next year,” Fred Wolsleger said.
If you are a ski bum praying for more snow, the Santa at 863 E. College Drive feels your pain.
Sandy Burke has been crafting unique decorations for about 20 years, and this year, Santa is waiting for snow with alcohol in hand.
After so many years of creating her own decorations, this season, she was able to fluff up a Santa, from years gone by, to adorn the roof.
“I’ve got several bodies in the basement,” she joked.
Her folk art is lit up until 4:30 a.m., so everyone, even those trekking home from the bar, can appreciate the display made of recycled materials.
If you are touring lights this year, hunting down the best Christmas displays with your family, Burke advises slowing down to take in the decorations.