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Ryan Johnson, Published December 14 2013

Holiday spirit – and lots of outdoor lights – connects two Fargo homes

FARGO - A nighttime drive down Seventh Street North might give some the idea that friendly neighborhood rivalry has given way to open conflict here.

Two houses, just a few feet apart, are decked out in enough snowflakes, illuminated snowman statutes and strings of lights to bring more than enough of the holiday spirit to each home on the block.

But Sue Christian, who’s lived at 1137 7th St. N. for the past 32 years, said there’s no mean competition going on between her house and the neighbors next door at 1141 7th St. N.

“I guess we just share a common love of decorating,” she said.

Christian and her neighbors have become well-known for having some of the most festive places in town this time of year, attracting a steady flow of slow-moving traffic that cruises this quiet residential street just off 12th Avenue North most evenings to take in the bright lights of these two houses.

Cory Mulvaney said the neighborhood was a stretch of Grinch-y dark homes during the holiday season when he and his wife, Deb, first moved here 22 years ago. But their love of lighting up the night each winter – and keeping up with Christian next door – has become a shining example for others on the block, he said, and now, many around them have started putting up strands of lights or candy cane poles in their own yards.

“It helps set an incentive for people to do it,” he said.

SPREADING HOLIDAY CHEER

There is too much of a good thing, Christian said. She had to scale back her holiday decorating habits a few years ago, when a neighbor across the street started giving directions to his place by relying on her well-adorned house as a landmark.

“He said, ‘You can’t miss it. I live right across the street from Little Las Vegas,’ ” she said, laughing.

Still, Christian tries to add a few new items each year, changing up how she positions the decorations every few years, always making sure the colors all look good together.

Deb Mulvaney said her goal is to make her decorations inclusive, which is why there are no Christmas-specific items lighting up her yard.

“Any religion and background can enjoy it,” she said. “It’s my winter wonderland, and it’s fun. That’s what the season’s supposed to be about, and it’s our gift to everyone.”

Leaving out specific references to Christmas has another perk, she said – it’s not a big deal if the snowflakes and snowman statues stay outside well after the holidays are over.

The Mulvaneys have a lot of practice with seasonal decorations, turning their yard into a series of fountains, ponds and water features each summer, then decking out the house for each Halloween, complete with spooky features like a flying ghost and a talking mummy.

The result is a “very tight” attic, Cory Mulvaney said, with decorations all put in plastic bins and neatly stacked up in the small storage space whenever they’re not displayed.

It’s all about spreading holiday cheer, he said, no matter the season – or the extra costs they pay on their power bill to keep the lights on each night.

“To me and my wife, it’s not really an expense,” he said. “It’s what people see when they drive by.”

Christian has been decorating for Christmas as long as she can remember, even when it meant just putting up one strand of lights wherever she could as a kid.

“Christmas is just a time of year to celebrate,” she said.

Looking for lights

Is there another home in Fargo, Moorhead, Dilworth or West Fargo that’s fully decked out for the holidays this year? If so, let The Forum know and it could be included in an upcoming map of the best-decorated houses in the community this holiday season. To submit a recommendation for the map, visit http://tinyurl.com/l8lspmn/.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587