Calvin and Eleanor Marcey call the wooden structure on the front of their house a porch. To the average person, it looks like just that.
But when the North Arlington couple built it, they were thinking of one thing – extra space for their annual display of Christmas lights. “We wanted to keep all the main attractions here on the ground floor,” said Calvin Marcey.
Anyone who has been by 1610 N. Abingdon St. lately knows why the Marceys needed the extra space. For the past 33 years, their Christmas decorations have gotten larger and more elaborate. “The basement is like Santa’s thrift shop,” said Eleanor.
For years they’ve had enough decorations to fill the house and the yard, but each year they can’t resist getting a few more. Neighborhood children call their home “The Christmas House,” in honor of the lights, figurines, fresh greenery, and model trains on display.
Trains are a popular attraction this year, even though the display isn’t yet complete. Calvin is waiting for special lights to be shipped from Nuremburg, Germany.
BEING THE LOCAL symbol of Christmas never gets old. “It keeps you young,” they both say.
Others obviously feel the same way. “I’ve had little kids over the years that have grown up and bring their kids,” said Calvin. The Marceys stay prepared for the visitors, buying candy canes by the case, and inviting passers-by to step inside the gate and walk around the yard.
“They want to be a part of it,” said Calvin. On mild nights it’s not uncommon for 15 visitors to be touring the yard while another 15 wait on the sidewalk. All the footsteps trample out the grass, but Calvin just spreads straw on the ground to protect guests’ shoes, and is happy to replant his grass each spring.
Going through the same routine each year always brings back memories, they say. “It’s a good old-fashioned Christmas,” said Eleanor. “People think back to when they were kids.”
They’ve seen visitors on the verge of tears as one decoration or another reminded them of childhood memories. And as they stand on their new porch reminiscing with complete strangers, the 60 hours they spend decorating is all worth while.