Kitsap, Washington: Elaborate Light Display Incorporates Outdoor Movie Screen


Die-hard holiday enthusiasts endured November's heavy rains to make sure their Christmas displays were ready by Thanksgiving.

Ten months out of the year, SE Royalwood Place is a quiet dead-end road in South Kitsap. Heavily lined with tall evergreen trees and quaint homes, it looks like any other residential neighborhood.

Until Charles Enos starts working on his holiday lights display.

Enos spends almost a month every year working on the project before flipping the switch on the day before Thanksgiving. This year, he expects to have close to 70,000 lights strewn across the acre of land surrounding his home.

The lights line walking paths that wind past plastic holiday characters in his yard. Bright blue lights illuminate the roof. Inflatable elves point children to the backyard, where Disney holiday cartoons are projected on a 12-foot movie screen hung between the trees.

It's not much of a stretch to say Enos' display borders on obsessive he has spent countless hours searching garage sales and online to grow his collection of holiday decorations but it hasn't always been that way.

The first couple years I did it, I had several reindeer and a sled and some soldiers, Enos said. And that was it.

The retired Puget Sound Naval Shipyard superintendent traces his affection for holiday lights to childhood. He grew up on a street in Tacoma that renamed itself Candy Cane Lane every holiday season. He strung holiday lights for his parents, so it was natural for him to do the same after he had a house of his own.

He's been decorating in South Kitsap since 1990. The display has gotten bigger each year.

It grows on you, he said. You start out small and pretty soon you start buying more and then you get to the point where you don't stop.

Once the neighborhood starts expecting something spectacular, it's hard to stop.

It's this love of sharing holiday cheer with others that drives some of Kitsap's most dedicated decorators to spend weeks preparing their homes for a day after Thanksgiving light-up.

They pay little attention to the increase in their electrical bill Enos typically spends an extra $800 or so on electricity during the holiday season, but he expects the amount will go down this year because he's using more energy-efficient LED lights.

And they like to see strangers pull up to their homes, drive by slowly and take pictures.

Tim and Lisa Calnan have decorated their home along Fernwood Court in Bremerton for the past 20 years. About 10 years ago, their display crescendoed, as Tim Calnan says, into what it is today.

After 20 years you just get kind of tired of the same old static lights, he said.

The Calnans have about 15,000 lights on display and a number of starbursts handmade by Calnan. The tallest is 18 feet, which he built to replicate the star that hangs on the Macy's building in downtown Seattle.

I'm kind of particular, Calnan said. I like my big lights facing down and my small lights facing up. I like it tight and put together.

Calnan's decorations include one pretty unique feature: lights synchronized to music played on the FM radio frequency he owns. Thirty-two light displays in the yard will be synchronized to music this year.

Calnan normally would have his lights ready to go by Thanksgiving, but a work-related project has delayed his decorating. His lights will come on closer to mid-December this year.

Not too far away in Belfair, Judy and Carl Harvey used every day of November to prepare for their Dec. 1 light up. Carl endured some rough weather earlier this month to decorate their home along NE Newkirk Road.

It's something he really enjoys doing. He's really proud of it, Judy Harvey said. He puts so many lights on it (the house), it looks like it's on fire.

The couple stick to traditional holiday decorations, including Santa Claus on the roof, a sleigh in the driveway, a herd of white reindeer below trees in the front yard and bear popping out of a present.

Harvey said her family didn't do much holiday decorating when she was a child, so when she moved into her first house she made up for lost time. Like Enos and the Calnans, the Harveys' decorations have grown over the years, making their house a destination during the holidays.

What's the point of putting them up if people can't enjoy them? Harvey said. Throwing the switch on the first night and it all lights up, it's just so fun.

Brynn Grimley source-

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