There are Christmas decorations, and then there are Christmas decorations. The latter applies to the winter wonderland that Cathy and Billy Garrigus have created around their home at the northeast corner of Meridian Street and Edgewood Avenue.
Their yard is a showplace of thousands of multicolored lights, illuminated candy canes, a Nativity scene and about 30 inflatables, including a giant teddy bear, Santa in an airplane, snowmen and others too numerous to mention.
Their driveway is covered by a beautiful archway of lights, and a 12-foot working Ferris wheel sits west of the drive. Both are new additions this year.
“Billy made the archway and the eight-seat Ferris wheel, and a stuffed animal sits in each seat. You can’t have any empty seats on a Ferris wheel,” laughed Cathy, who hails from West Virginia.
“Billy keeps asking me, ‘When is enough enough?’ And I keep telling him when I get my yard full, and it ain’t full yet. I still have to fill up the west side of the house. We have plenty of room to expand!
“We are already planning for next year. Billy is going to make me a carousel.”
The Garriguses put in six or seven hours a day for 12 days to set up their decorations. “We do it all on our own,” said Cathy, 60. “I can do the blowups by myself, but Billy has to put the lights on the roof and in the trees,” she said. “We have a small fortune in extension cords.
And the couple take pride in their work. They just don’t set the inflatables out, turn on the blowers and walk away. They examine their display from across the street to ensure that none of their blowups are blocking others and that everything looks good.
“It brings us a lot us a lot of joy when children scream out of school bus windows that they love our decorations,” Cathy said. “What better gratification is there than knowing that we make people happy.
“We get all kinds of tokens of appreciation, including gift cards.”
In what has become a tradition for the couple, they “flip their switch” the Saturday after Thanksgiving. On nice evenings they dress as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and pass out candy canes to visitors, which are plentiful. Albert Drive, which abuts their property to the east, is often bumper to bumper with cars come nightfall.
While the inflatables are on 24/7, the lights are on dusk-to-dawn timers. Surprisingly, their electric bill only jumps $150 for the Christmas season.
“We do cut the power to the inflatables when it’s going to get windy,” she said. “The wind just beats them up, as was the case last week. I didn’t realize it was that windy until my husband called me. We had to repair a few of them, and the motor was pulled off one. They can handle a little snow and light rain but no freezing rain.”
Cathy estimates that they have invested between $5,000 and $6,000 in their display. They spent $800 on lights last year. “But I always get my stuff after Christmas, when it’s half-price.”
The couple’s winter wonderland will come down a couple of days after Christmas. “It’s hard to believe, but the yard will be empty by New Year’s Day,” she said. The only thing that will hamper their progress is rain or snow. “The inflatable have to be put away when they are dry or else they will mold.”
And if you think the Garriguses – parents of Heather and grandparents of Curtis – go all out for Christmas, then drive past their house around Halloween. Their “spooktacular” display features more than 50 inflatables, moving monsters and many lights.
“If the kids are too scared to come up to the door to get their candy, then I know I’ve done my job,” laughed Cathy, who is retired from the Diamond Chain Co. Billy, 54, worked there for 24 years before gaining employment at Techsite in Carmel.
When several Halloween monsters were stolen a few years ago, the couple installed security cameras around their yard.
Believe it not, the Garriguses are able to store all their decorations in their big garage, two mini-barns and a lean-to.
“It’s a lot of work but we love it, and we love Christmas and Halloween,” Cathy said. I’m going to keep doing this for as long as the good Lord lets me.”