Joanna Dodder Nellans
|Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier|
First-place winners Delores and Bob Colstock have filled their garage with about 300 miniature Christmas- themed houses, a model railroad track and a flying Santa. They live at 8501 Posse Circle East in Prescott Valley and their display is open from 5-8:30 p.m. daily.
Second-place winner Bryan Radcliff literally covers his home and lawn with dazzling lights.
|3rd place: Bais family is 4-time winner|
|Julian and Sharon Bais probably have won more prizes than anyone in The Daily Courier's annual Christmas lights contest.|
This is their fourth year amongst the winners. Their Chino Valley home placed second in 2012, third in 2011 and second in 2007.
Their two-acre yard provides a perfect backdrop for all their lights and decorations that would be hard to fit in a smaller, urban yard. The Bais family invites everyone to drive through their loop driveway for a better look.
"Just making one kid smile is worth it," Julian said.
Both natives of Yavapai County, Julian and Sharon constructed their home a decade ago with Christmas lights in mind, building extra storage space and electrical outlets.
The yard features numerous homemade displays such as tin soldiers, a saguaro, snowflakes, star and poinsettias. Julian's father built many of them. Snowmen skate on a lighted blue pond near a bear, igloo and penguin. And of course, Santa is there with his sleigh and reindeer.
Giant inflatables and snow globes round out the show. Some of the lights and displays even dance to music.
This year they added purple lights on one of their trees in honor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots from Prescott, who perished in the Yarnell Hill wildfire this year. They also added an archway.
Special to the Tribune
With houses, it's all about location, location, location.
Eight years ago, Bob Colstock, with the help of his daughter Sheryl, started buying miniature homes and accessories to set up a Christmas village on a table in his house.
But his wife had another site in mind.
"I said, 'You get out in the garage and get out of the house,'" joked Delores, who has been with Bob for nearly 60 years after meeting in high school in Joliet, Ill.
Delores explained the real reason whey they have been filling their Prescott Valley garage with an intricate miniature village for Christmas the past eight years.
"We wanted to share it with everyone," she said.
A sign in the front yard invites passersby to come inside to see the Christmas village. It's so unusual that some people knock on their front door just to make sure it's true.
That's OK, because Bob and Delores are waiting to come out and greet them between 5 and 8:30 p.m. daily through New Year's Day (unless the weather is bad).
Bob appears in his Santa hat to wish people a Merry Christmas, while Delores hands out candy canes and toys to the little ones.
"I guess that's what makes Christmas," Bob said. "We hope people stopping by get enjoyment out of it."
A group of eight people who on Monday were certainly enjoying it. The Giaconia family from Prescott Valley brought their friends from Sacramento to explore the village.
"Where are the snow angels?" one of them asked. "Oh, it's two people dancing," another exclaimed. "Oh, I hear a train," a third chimed in as he headed toward the miniature train circling the back table.
The ice rink skaters were the favorite of another.
"You have to come more than once because you're going to miss something," Marla Giaconia said. She especially enjoyed the nativity scene with angels hovering above it.
"I hope Santa Claus is good to you," Bob said to his visitors as they headed home and promised to return.
Sheryl said her parents have regulars who come by every year.
"Little kids like the farm," and name each animal they see, Delores said.
Visitors have to make sure they look up, too. Santa and his sleigh move through the sky, along with an elf in a plane.
Bob figures he's collected more than 300 miniature houses. Sometimes strangers bring him more, such as the Lowe's and Ace Hardware employees who brought store miniatures.
Bob built mountains, a lighted moon and twinkling stars as
the backdrop for the perimeter tables. He drilled holes through the tables to add plenty of lights throughout the villages, too.
One unusual village even features sea creatures and fishermen along a creek.
The Colstocks' yard has plenty of decorations, too; some of the yard lights even flash to music.
And the inside of their home features dozens of Santa figurines. A charming calliope in the house will join the Christmas village next year, Delores noted.
The Colstocks' children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren help set up the villages each year.
Some of the tables in the garage have multiple levels so Bob has room to add even more miniature homes, businesses and figurines.
It seems like new styles are available every year.
"I guess they change every year to get you to buy more," Bob observed.
That's what Sheryl wants to hear. In fact, she wants her parents to build a second garage so they can leave the display up all year.
"There's two things I love about it," she explained: the smile on her dad's face when he's showing the village to visitors, and the look on her mom's face when Sheryl brings over more miniature village items.
"She shakes her fist and says, 'I'm gonna string you up,'" Sheryl laughed.
"As much as she complains, she loves it just as much as Dad."
Follow reporter JoannaDodder on Twitter @joannadodder.
2nd place: Lights cover house and ground at Radcliff home
Yards decorated with Christmas cheer are relatively easy to find in Prescott Valley, but few people literally cover their yard with lights.
Bryan Radcliff's home is known for the lights that perfectly line the ground. The house is pretty well-covered, too.
Christmas contest voters gravitate toward Radcliff on a regular basis, awarding him with second place in 2011 and third place in 2010.
"I like it when the kids come by to look," he said. "A lot of people drive by, stop and say how much they like it."
His wintry Christmas night theme includes a dazzling number of white lights, trees, deer, an angel and a Santa with reindeer on the roof. A 30-foot maple is dressed up to look like a giant Christmas tree with a hand-made four-foot star on top.
He's still trying to expand the display, pondering a pulley mechanism to get lights higher in a tree.
"The whole thing started out with my daughter wanting lights on the house," Radcliff said.
Now his daughter has moved into her own house and asked her father to help decorate it.