1,000 points of light: Juneau homeowners unleash holiday spirit

Music from 40 holiday CDs, 60 figurines included in light show at downtown home

Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2005

Jeff Campbell measures a successful Christmas decorating season by the size of his electric bill. Last year it was about $300.

"He has an absolute love for Christmas," his wife, Terri, said.

The Campbell home could be mistaken for a gingerbread house. The angular brown cottage near the Federal Building downtown is covered in rainbow-colored lights.

Among the 14 Santa Clauses - and a total of 60 figurines - are a few extras that Campbell adds each year. Disney's latest animated hero, Chicken Little, is perched on the roof, which previously featured SpongeBob SquarePants, the Grinch and Nemo, the clown fish.

A glowing arrow on the chimney points down, while below, Santa and his reindeer are suspended in the air by cables. Outdoor speakers play some 40 different Christmas compact disc, including ones with songs from the Flintstones, Barbara Streisand, John Denver and the Muppets, and the soundtrack to the Alaska-themed drama King Island Christmas.

"Our neighbors joke with us and say when they fly in to Juneau, they can see our house," Terri said.

Countless homes across Juneau are illuminated this year, with several residents doing it for the same reasons.

"When it's dark all of the time, it makes you feel good to have the lights on," said Lin Roguska, who lives on a cul-de-sac near Glacier Elementary School in which half a dozen homes attempt to outdo each other with plastic snowmen and candy canes.

The neighborhood is rewarded with a parade of cars.

"There are some days you can't even back out of the driveway," she said.

Roguska said it's not about competition, but tradition. Her husband, Ben, starts the day after Christmas, buying decorations for the next year at a discount of 75 percent.

The family's motto is "little budget, big ideas."

Campbell said their collection is the sum of years of garage-sale shopping and donations. Because of the house's reputation in town, people have left Santa figurines on the porch anonymously, she said.

Dwight and Mary Robidoux, who live on Glacier Highway near Fred Meyer, began their leap into the Christmas spirit when Dwight inherited 6,000 lights years ago. Their property now has 34 to 35 figurines, icicle bulbs hanging from the house, giant snowmen and more lights than they can count.

Putting it up took seven volunteers and an estimated 60-man hours, Dwight Robidoux said.

"We're fortunate to have an extended family," Mary Robidoux said.

Their next-door neighbor, an electrician, serves as a consultant on wiring the spectacle.

Herb Freer's home on a hill near Twin Lakes has a moving polar bear and deer, plus red, white and blue lights on the front porch, up the driveway and on the frame of the home.

"We didn't do much this year," Freer said. But he found enough leftover lights to cover the dog house, which is now occupied by his cat, Elliot.

"We wanted the cat to get into the spirit," he said.

• Andrew Petty can be reached at andrew.petty@juneauempire.com

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