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Homes aglow for the holidays

Check out these residences that feature bright, imaginative Christmas displays

By , Columbian environment and transportation reporter
Published: December 13, 2017, 6:00am
8 Photos
Rick Amies fixes a string of lights in the front yard of his Hazel Dell home, which is decorated with various Christmas decorations and lights, continuing a family tradition started by his parents in the Lincoln neighborhood. (Ariane Kunze/The Columbian)
Rick Amies fixes a string of lights in the front yard of his Hazel Dell home, which is decorated with various Christmas decorations and lights, continuing a family tradition started by his parents in the Lincoln neighborhood. (Ariane Kunze/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

HAZEL DELL — Rick and Renee Amies’ Hazel Dell home glows each Christmas season with light-up reindeer and strands upon strands of lights.

“It’s all her fault,” Rick Amies joked.

“Honestly, it all started from where Rick grew up on 43rd and Lincoln,” Renee said.

She recalled when she was a teenager growing up in the east county and driving to the Lincoln neighborhood in Vancouver to see two homes the owners covered with Christmas lights.

One of those houses was Rick’s. He grew up near Northwest Lincoln Avenue and West 43rd Street. His neighbor was Anthony Furio. In 1959, Furio started a famous local display, where he covered his house in thousands of blue lights.

People would jam the streets with traffic, coming to check out the lights, the Amies said, which was a lot less common back then.

“When Rick and I started dating, I didn’t realize I was dating the boy that had grown up in the house of lights,” Renee Amies said.

They now have three children and nine grandchildren, and have been sharing their Hazel Dell home for 47 years.

“It was going to be our starter home, and then kids came along, now it’s a great retirement home,” Rick Amies said.

The Christmas display, which includes a reindeer for each grandchild, has steadily grown over the years. It started fairly conservatively, Rick said. He remembers resisting when his father tried to unload all of his Christmas decorations on him.

Now, they have kids, grandkids and neighbors out each year to form a human chain to hand decorations down from the attic and help hang lights.

“It does kind of get a little addictive, I guess,” Rick Amies said. “I complain every year, but when you get it all up and look at it, it’s pretty fun.”

People drive by to admire the house, Renee said, and a neighbor once baked them cookies in appreciation. The neighbor kids, she said, teasingly call them the Griswolds, referencing Hollywood’s infamous exterior illuminator.

“It’s fun. It’s fun to see people love Christmas, and what not,” she said. “It’s a great time of year for so many reasons.”

Christmas light fans can spot their house at 11001 N.E. 11th Ave. The Columbian is keeping a running list and map of reader-submitted holiday displays online. Find some homes worth checking out below, and submit what we missed to metrodesk@columbian.com.

Holiday houses

  • A cluster of homes in Washougal again teamed up for a multihome display this year, with multiple light-strewn homes running along 51st Street off Southeast Sunset View Road.
  • Now in their fourth year, several homes starting at 4616 N.W. Franklin St. have prepared a 25,000-plus light setup including Santa’s sleigh, nine life-sized reindeer including Rudolph, the jolly old elf in red himself and a whole cast of holiday favorites. Jim Mains, one of the organizers, said the group is collecting canned food for local food banks, in memory of community leader Scott Campbell, who died over the summer. The display, which includes music, stays on from 5 to 9 p.m. Nonperishable food items can be dropped off in the pink bin up to Christmas Day.
  • A display at 2105 N.E. 151st Court in Vancouver, tucked away in a cul-de-sac, features a yard filled with decorations, lights synced to holiday tunes and Christmas films playing via projector.
  • Last year, the display at 9304 N.E. 93rd Place included a lawn of green lights, and the residents say they’re planning something special for this year.
  • Battle Ground residents, and visitors, can check out 10316 N.E. 197th St.
  • The residents at 8718 N.E. 77th Way put up about 12,000 lights, they say, including vintage plastic blow mold Christmas decorations, spiral trees, snowflakes and more.
  • Check out 6523 N.E. 52nd St. in Vancouver, which offers more than 5,000 lights, and that’s not including the decorative deer, bears, trees and snowmen. And a moose.
  • The home at 714 N.E. 152nd Ave., in Vancouver, is covered with lights from the peak of the roof down the front of the house, and the residents were still adding lights when they contacted the Columbian. The house is right around the corner from another dazzling display at 15309 N.E. Seventh St.
  • The light show at 607 Palo Alto Drive is tasteful, not gaudy, the residents say. The show includes a 9-foot moose, near life-size Nativity scene, Rudolph-led reindeer pulling a sleigh, Frosty the Snowman and snowflakes.
  • From 4:30 to 10 p.m., the 5,000-some lights at 1719 S.E. 162nd Ave. in east Vancouver will feature an animated, musical light show for cars tuned in to 90.3 FM.
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