Season of lights

By Kathryn Reyes

This holiday season, a drive through Fireside Lane would lead you to a magical place where Christmas comes alive in a home that glows with lights of different shapes and colors.

Anyone who happens to pass by cannot possibly miss it. With all the bright lights and grand decorations, it can easily be mistaken for a mini theme park.

The wonderland of a home belongs to the Coes, a typical American family that enjoy doing things together, especially during the holidays.

Shane and Trina Coe, married for 17 years, said that they have decorated their house with lights every year, long before their two kids, Alisha and Josh, came along.

Their lights weren’t always so grand. Shane, assistant manager at Les Schwab in Oak Harbor, said they had small beginnings. The couple kept recycling the lights they use for Christmas and they added up over the seasons. Sixteen years later, they had enough illumination to literally light up their home for the holidays.

Since stores put Christmas ornaments on sale as much as 75 percent off after the holidays, the Coes opt to buy their Christmas lights a year in advance and keep them all year long for the next season.

“That’s the only way to go,” said Trina, who works as an office assistant at Hillcrest Elementary.

The instinct to celebrate Christmas with lights isn’t confined to Fireside Lane. Oak Harborites in search of outstanding displays find them all over town.

Andy Manlangit, an employee at Navy Whidbey Recycle, whose home is located on Whidbey Avenue, leaves visitors wonderstruck with his amazingly bright lights.

Manlangit said he began setting up everything on his front yard a month ago, right after Thanksgiving and just before his Nov. 30 birthday. A few weeks later, it seems as though he’s not quite done yet. “Up until last week, I was still adding some more embellishments. I do them one thing at a time,” he said. “I actually have some more in the garage.”

The 68-year-old Filipino, who is now a naturalized citizen, proudly said that he set everything up on his yard all by himself. He even went to great lengths such as climbing up the cherry tree in front of his house just to install the lights.

For the Coes, however, it’s “a family affair,” as Shane describes it. “We all help each other out.” He usually takes care of the lights on the trees and on their roof while his wife, Trina, handles all the stuff at lower elevation. While the kids like to go on top of the roof with their father, they also help their mother putting things together in the yard.

Eleven-year-old Alisha is actually given her own project. She takes care of decorating the cherry tree in front of their house. “Alisha does the cherry tree every year,” Trina said. “We’re not allowed to touch that.”

Compared to Manlangit, who took some time to build his “little Disneyland,” the Coes said that it took them only one weekend to turn their home into the charming place that it is right now.

Shane and Trina aren’t quite sure how much they’ve spent to decorate their home for the holidays. But their son Josh, who turns nine today, offered to help them out when he answered, “A bunch of money!”

With all the lights that they have on every night during the holidays, the Coes need “a bunch more money” to pay their December electric bill. “It doubles,” Shane said.

Trina added, “We usually pay $150 for the electric bill but the January bill would be about $250.”

On the other hand, Manlangit, whose Christmas is never without lights, laughed out loud when asked about how his electric bill goes up during the holiday season. “Oh my! Electric bill’s went up by more than half. It almost doubled. But, I don’t mind at all because it only happens once a year.”

Manlangit’s motivation for lavishly adorning his home with dazzling lights is to make people happy. “When you see people passing by and they look at it or take pictures of it, I feel fulfilled,” Manlangit said. “It makes me happy to make other people happy.” That includes Manlangit’s granddaughter, Princess, who said she finds her grandpa’s Christmas lights “really beautiful . . . one of my friends said that we have like billions of lights outside. Another one also said that I live in a fairytale house and I feel really good about that.”

The Coes don’t mind at all that people stop by to take pictures in front of their house. In fact, “We think it’s great!” Shane said. They have actually found yet another family activity to do every night this holiday season.

“We sit here on the couch (by the window) and have a grand old time watching people slow down when they drive by,” Trina said. Her husband added, “We enjoy doing it. I think it’s neat. I like people’s reactions. It’s fun!”

For Manlangit, getting compliments about his wonderful lights is enough to make him keep doing it every year. “It’s like my Christmas gift to the community,” he said. “And my way of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to everybody who happens to pass by.”

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