By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Driving around town looking at lights is a tradition for many families on Christmas Eve. Of course, between church and dinner and last-minute present-wrapping, not everyone has time to go up and down every street. So here's a guide to some of the delights tucked away on Havre streets.
Two of these homes fared well at the annual Havre Jaycees Christmas light judging; others were named in an informal judging done by Havre Mayor Bob Rice and his department heads last week. And there are a few that weren't on either list.
This guide isn't definitive. But if you're pressed for time, these homes are sure to provide some of the most lights per minute in town:
Highland Park has numerous homes that radiate Christmas cheer. Be sure to check out 1127 McKinley Ave., where five 2-D reindeer pull a Santa and sleigh across the towering ridgeline. Fences of lights with candy canes as posts line the edge of the roof and the yard below, and multicolored chaser lights deck the large evergreen tree in the front yard. A large white star on the rooftop crowns the whole scene.
The hardest part of this display was securing the reindeer, said Jed Damson, 55, who made the display with his wife, Marlyn, 56, and daughter Sarah, 15. The reindeer have to be hoisted up one at a time and secured to a 2-by-2 board that is screwed into the roofline.
The family adds something new every year. This year it was the red, white and blue lights on the fence south of the driveway. Next year, they said, they might decorate the tree house in the back yard.
"Some people here actually turned around and came back a second time," Sarah said.
"We're hoping it'll encourage (neighbors) to put them up too," Jed Damson said.
The Heritage subdivision east of Havre High School, anchored by Heritage Drive, may be the brightest area in Havre.
At 1005 19th St., which faces Heritage Drive, strings of white lights climb ivy-like up four pillars, and larger colored bulbs fringe the eaves and overhang. A small herd of reindeer with red ribbons around their necks graze on the lawn.
Around the corner, the lights at 1004 and 1005 19th St. blend together to make one of the brightest displays around, punctuated by a dazzling trio of artificial trees at 1004, and an array of chasing and stationary lights in the trees and bushes at 1005.
Those who venture a little farther south to 2329 Heritage Drive will be treated to a symphony of stately white lights festooning the fence, porch railing and eaves. A herd of 11 moving reindeer graze in various postures of ruminant bliss in the side yard, but the best part is in the front yard, where a lit-up bull moose sways his great rack from side to side.
As you come out of Heritage Drive onto 17th Street, don't miss 624 Pine Drive, where a blanket of lights turns the hedge along the road into a scintillating wall of color.
The Blake residence at 1025 11th St., which was awarded second place by the Jaycees and the grand prize on the city's list, is one of Havre's most unified creations. Strings of red and green lights climb the driveway and spread over the entire house, tracing the balcony, garage doors and all the ridgelines on the roof. Numerous figures populate the property as well.
The secret to the brilliance of the display, said Bill and Becky Blake, is using lights with colored glass bulbs, which shine brighter than traditional painted ones. The Blakes got theirs in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
"It doesn't take near as long as you think," Bill Blake said. They work on it a little bit at a time, every day for about a week. But it all comes down in about an hour, they said.
Even though the Blakes' power bill doubles in December, it's worth it, they said.
The Blake residence is a gateway of sorts to Glo-Ed, which has several brilliant displays of its own. A quick loop east on 11th Street, south on 14th Avenue, and west again on 12th Street to 12th Avenue will reveal some of the best of them.
Those who have the extra time to drive out to the Meyers residence at 2 Saddle Butte Estates will be rewarded with a sumptuous feast for the eye. Colored lights trace all the eaves and ridgelines, colored candles and Christmas trees grace the front windows, and three distinctive white snowflakes traced in lights decorate the gable end. Five tin soldiers, a wooden sleigh and reindeer, and a large blinking star atop a wooden pole add to the effect. The lights of Havre spread out in the distance complement the display.
"There's lots of people that ask us every year, 'Does he have his lights up?'" said Trudy Meyer, whose husband, Jake, makes the display and adds something new every year. This year he introduced two large candles, one on either side of the garage, that he made with used fluorescent tubes.
"It's just that people enjoy it, so he likes doing it. It makes people happy," Meyer said.
At the end of a night of lightseeing, the Tip It bar at 1315 Third St. N. makes a good nightcap. A life-size 3-D Santa stands on the ridgeline behind three shimmering reindeer, and a spiral of white lights in the shape of a Christmas tree stands on the roof nearby like a brilliant steeple. White and red lights trace the eaves and windows, and colored chaser lights meander about the fence.
Larry Reinowski, nephew of the owner of the Tip It, said that for several years he put up the lights for Reinowski Farms in Kremlin. He placed in the Jaycees' competition for a few years, and finally took first a few years ago, he said.
"Once I took first place I felt it was time to move on," he said.
This is the first year Reinowski has decorated the Tip It. He said he did it for his aunt.
"My aunt is a very special person and I'd do it again for her," he said, adding that next year he wants to get first place.