Looks a lot like Christmas

Holiday decorating a sign of the season

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Garran Sparks began decorating his Batavia home for the Christmas holidays in earnest in 2000, and his display keeps growing every year. The display includes thousands of lights, included a lighted walk and several inflatable figures that are all synchronized to music.

BATAVIA – To say that Batavia 1st Ward Alderman Garran Sparks’ house at 943 Bluestem Lane in Batavia is decked out for the holidays is an understatement.

Sparks’ display is so big that it takes up both his front and backyards.

Sparks welcomes people to walk a lighted path that extends from the street to the rear yard of his house.

It is one of the shining stars among holiday displays, which can be seen throughout the area.

While some opt for more modest decorations, some go all out. Sparks’ display started out on a much smaller scale.

“I started just putting lights in front of the house,” Sparks said.

The display continues to get bigger and bigger every year – and taller, in the case of the 45-foot-tall blue spruce tree that is in his backyard this year.

With the help of a cherry picker, Sparks was able to get all the lights wrapped around the tree.

Walking along the path, one will encounter a variety of decorations, including Santa and his sleigh and even a peacock.

For the fourth year, Sparks is collecting food donations for the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry. Those who come out to the display can drop off donations in a box at the beginning of the path.

Last year, Sparks collected between 12 to 13 shopping carts of food for the pantry. According to its website, the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry is in need of such food items as cereal, beef stew, beef chili and baby food, and other items such as dish soap, laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, paper towels and bar soap.

This year’s display almost didn’t happen because of the harsh weather conditions the area has experienced lately.

“Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I had three inches of water in my backyard and one week before Thanksgiving, the ground was frozen and I couldn’t get the stakes in,” Sparks said.

But with the help of his daughter, son-in-law and their kids, Sparks was able to finish this year’s display. He said laying out the path is probably the hardest part.

“I have to put stakes in every foot and a half,” he said.

Sparks doesn’t even know how many lights are included in the display.

As part of the display, the two-story shed in his backyard is decorated with lights that are synchronized to music.

Like others, Sparks has made the transition to LED lights, which have become more popular in the past few years.

He said the display doubles his electric bill for the month.

“It’s equivalent to running the air over the summer during the hottest month,” Sparks said. “It’s typically about $400, about $200 more than I would usually pay in the winter.”

Sparks’ holiday display has become a tradition in the neighborhood, said his next-door neighbor, Shelly McEachern. She said her family looks forward to it every year.

“My three kids grew up on Garran’s lights,” McEachern said. “The whole neighborhood enjoys it.”

Sparks said the work and expense he puts into his display is worth it.

“I like to see kids’ reactions,” he said. “And when you open up the blinds in the house, you can see the lights from every window. It kind of brightens up winter.”

Homeowners aren’t the only ones going all out for the holidays. Malone Funeral Home, at 324 E. State St. in Geneva, is bathed in holiday lights during the holiday season.

“It’s become a tradition,” said Dennis Malone of Malone Funeral Home. “We have been doing it at least 15 years. It’s kind of grown over the years.”

And people have come to expect them, he said.

“We get a lot of compliments,” Malone said. “People just enjoy seeing it decorated like that.”

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