The Lights of Christmas

The “granddaddy” of Christmas displays, as described by bus driver Janis Powell, is located along Reservation Road in Oak Harbor.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
The “granddaddy” of Christmas displays, as described by bus driver Janis Powell, is located along Reservation Road in Oak Harbor.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Christmas lights in Oak Harbor tend to act as the official mark of the holiday season. An exterior display of Christmas lights can range from a single strand wrapped around the eaves to excessive amounts of bulbs and inflatables that canvas the yard and move.

Tuesday, members of the Oak Harbor Senior Center bused around North Whidbey to search out homes that went above and beyond holiday duty.

“Some people just go crazy with the decorating,” said Dorothy Bell, who has been on the tour for the last six years.

Before the tour began, bus driver Janis Powell decided the route based on popular locations in the past and emails from locals.

“Sometimes I’ll steer off course if I see some lights. We’ll use any tactic we can get,” Powell said.

She started the drive along SE Sixth Street, where a Christmas tree is decorated atop a house. Along SE O’Leary Street, especially at the intersections of NE Eighth Avenue and NE 10th Avenue, there are inflatable Santas, snowmen, a light-up nativity scene and Santa in a sleigh driving mechanical moving reindeers.

Following Highway 20, with a right on Fakkema Road and left on Wilson Road, is a large-scale installation that appears as if the homeowner walked into the Wal-Mart holiday section and said “I’ll take it all.”

“Oohs,” “ahhs,” and “WOW” were blurted from passengers as they witnessed the scene.

Another impressive collection is located along Sleeper Road, owned by Ben and Karen Bess, whose yard plays holiday music for passing drivers.

Driving from Sleeper Road to N. Taylor Road, and its intersection at Silver Lake Road, is a long stretch of lighting display that can be seen from a distance. There are stars, a glowing noel sign, wrapped trees and other holiday drapings dotting the horizon.

By taking a left on E. Crescent Harbor Road and a right on Reservation Road, you will reach what Powell described as the “granddaddy” of holiday decor.

“It’s a little out of the way, but it’s worth it,” Powell said.

The home is owned by the Jay and Christy Hale, owners of Four Seasons Roofing. Each tree is wrapped in tube lighting, every bush is wrapped in lights and a string of Santas line the walkway. There are two train sets. And according to Powell, the inside is similarly festive, with holiday houses and figurines.

The home intersects with Happy Valley Road, but you probably won’t miss it.

From there, Powell turned around and headed towards SE Pioneer Way.

“Downtown is alway a nice place to come. The shops are lit up and you can see the city tree,” Powell said.

Towards the marina, you can also make out the lights from decorated sailboats in the harbor.

Up the hill near Oak Harbor Middle School, along SW Sixth Avenue, is a homeowner who has ornaments armed for almost every holiday, recently Halloween and Thanksgiving. For this holiday season, their yard is filled with creative inflatables, such as toy store and Santa’s workshop. There are small, smiling penguin and polar bear figurines placed near the fence line.

One slightly out-of-the-way location, but equally as reminiscent of the lighting in “Christmas Vacation,” is a small cul-de-sac along W. Beach Road, called Tilbury Lane.

“It’s great how one person will start decorating and then other do it next door, and it spreads to the neighborhood,” Bell said.

The whole area is pretty well canvassed. Creative features include a candy cane North Pole sign, and a lighted image of Santa on the side of a house.

Between admiring Christmas lights, members of the Senior Center stopped at Cori and Jim Siggens’ house in Oak Harbor for some wassail (a hot drink made of spices and sugar) and cookies.

Passengers were beginning to feel the holiday spirit, as described by Bell.

“I’ve always decorated myself but I don’t do as much anymore, so it’s good to see others,” Bell said. “This really gets you in the mood for Christmas.”

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