Many people enjoy making their lawns and gardens look nice in the summer. For Al and Deb Paulzine of Garfield, that desire has also expanded into the wintertime.

Over the past decade or even longer, their Christmas lights and decorations have slowly expanded. They now are spread over about 3 acres of land around their home at 2655 Deer Run NW.

“It just kind of progressed throughout the years,” Deb explained. “We can put up the lights and it still looks good. It gives us a year-round project that way.”

“We love it,” Al added.

From the hillside viewers can see the expanse of Christmas lights at the home of Al and Deb Paulzine of Garfield. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)
From the hillside viewers can see the expanse of Christmas lights at the home of Al and Deb Paulzine of Garfield. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

Contest changed everything

It wasn’t always that way. Decorating and stringing lights started out as something that only Deb enjoyed. Al admits that he played the role of Scrooge in the beginning, because he worked away from home during the week and did not want to spend his weekends putting up lights.

But that all changed when Deb entered the Echo Press' Christmas light contest one year and won. When that happened, Al also “got the bug.”

“It’s kind of grown rapidly since,” he said. “I’ve got a competitive soul.”

Al and Deb Paulzine sometimes have to be creative when decorating, such as using lights from a pole to a hoop on the ground to create Christmas trees.  The large "tree" on the back left includes 20 strings of lights from the top of a light pole. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)
Al and Deb Paulzine sometimes have to be creative when decorating, such as using lights from a pole to a hoop on the ground to create Christmas trees. The large "tree" on the back left includes 20 strings of lights from the top of a light pole. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

In fact, it has become a bit of an obsession for them both, often leading to arguments and discussions about lights, or to staying awake at night trying to come up with new ideas.

“They think we’re nuts,” Al said, referring to their children, who all live in the area. “Our grandkids love it.”

Their holiday display now includes thousands of lights, 11 projectors, a nativity scene and even a few inflatable decorations. All of the lights are on timers so they come on and go off automatically. However, the couple said would still like to add more stuff, such as music and possibly even computerized controls.

“I’d like to do a skating rink,” Al said, adding that their grandkids play hockey.

Sharing it with others

The Paulzines, who have a lot of flowers in the summer and have even been part of the Tour of Gardens, explained that Christmas decorating gives them the same sense of accomplishment and satisfaction as gardening or lawn work.

However, they don’t do all of it solely for themselves; they also enjoy sharing it with others.

“I’d like to see more kids and more older people come out and enjoy it,” Al said. “If it makes their day better, that’s a good thing.”

Decorating for Christmas has become a labor of love for the Paulzines, whose yard includes thousands of lights, a nativity scene, and many projectors. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)
Decorating for Christmas has become a labor of love for the Paulzines, whose yard includes thousands of lights, a nativity scene, and many projectors. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

Both Al and Deb said they encourage people to stop and look at the lights, or knock on the door and visit.

“You’re more than welcome to walk through, if you like,” Al said.

Putting up the lights is a project they start in October when the weather is nicer, although Al admits they’re already thinking about the next year as they are doing the installation. He estimated that, working together, they put in the equivalent of five to six 40-hour weeks in getting everything just right.

LED lights have made everything a lot easier. Before that, they were constantly blowing circuits and testing and replacing bulbs. LEDs have also minimized the energy costs associated with the display, he said.

Deb and Al Paulzine of rural Garfield spend many hours each year decorating their home and yard at 2655 Deer Run NW. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)
Deb and Al Paulzine of rural Garfield spend many hours each year decorating their home and yard at 2655 Deer Run NW. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

After going through all the work of setting up all the lights, Deb said they usually keep them on until the end of January.

“We’re known in the neighborhood as the Christmas light people,” she said.