Glow of holiday cheer spreads

Neighbors say spectacular light display can warm winter nights

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

Use our interactive map to find Christmas lights in Clark County.

Neighbors living under the glare of Brandon Whitehead’s strobe lights, accompanying Christmas music and the constant stream of traffic on a normally quiet block of Northeast 63rd Street don’t seem to mind.

Sure, there may be close to 200 cars that come through every night to witness the home’s display. And, sure, some of the onlookers try to park and occasionally plug up the street. But the hubbub is all in the name of holiday spirit, says Austin Castaneda, who lives across the street from Whitehead’s display in the Orchards area.

“People line up down the road for a chance to see it,” Castaneda said. “It’s a holiday tradition.”

The display, among dozens of eye-catching Christmas light extravaganzas in Clark County, draws crowds for its prominent blinking lights

synchronized to music. Whitehead also likes to hand out candy canes to visitors. By this week, he’d already handed out 1,632.

So do residents living in the shadows of these displays like the activity, or hem and haw about it?

Most of the residents in several neighborhoods view it favorably, as it turns out.

Neighbors on 63rd Street say they look forward to Whitehead’s display each year. He’s good about working with his neighbors, they say: He turns off the loud music after 9 p.m. and makes sure onlookers don’t park in front of residents’ driveways.

Linda Schulze, who lives down the street from Whitehead, said she enjoys the display and doesn’t notice traffic problems.

“I wouldn’t want to live across the street, though,” she admits. “There’s a strobe light that blinks. You’d have to close the blinds.”

Still, “I think it adds to the holiday spirit,” she added.

And holiday cheer, not grumbling neighbors, is exactly what these spectacular displays bring to other neighborhoods, residents say. The light display of the home of Jody Strickland and Jeff Hibdon on Northeast 176th Avenue in the Fisher-Mill Plain neighborhood has caused neighbors to want to beef up their own Christmas lights. The display, in a candy-cane theme, includes snowmen in the front yard and Santa’s reindeer on the roof.

“It’s hard to match them,” said Stephanie Klug, who lives across the street.

Several neighbors on the street have tried to one-up them: Christmas figurines and lights pepper houses on both sides of the Strickland-Hibdon home. Klug said you’d be the odd neighbor out if you didn’t show some flair.

“My husband wasn’t going to do lights this year,” Klug said. “I was like, ‘You can’t not do anything living next to a house like that.’”

In the Lincoln neighborhood, on Northwest 42nd Street, nearly all the residents have light displays. That definitely brings a lot of cars through the area, said neighbor Ethan Lehman.

On some nights, he estimates seeing 100 cars drive through, and some of them will briefly park right in front of his house.

But the fans are courteous. “If I’m trying to drive in, they’ll move,” Lehman said.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.