LIght show snowballs: Grant Ranch resident illuminates the neighborhood

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By Matt Gunn

Santa Claus will never miss Vern Lowerys house, even on the foggiest of Christmas Eves.

Its not so much that Lowery is particularly naughty or nice. Rather, Lowerys annual lighting display is enough to give even the most red-nosed reindeer a slight case of glow envy.

Yeah, Xcel Energy loves me this time of year, Vern Lowery said.

The reason why is the estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Christmas lights that adorn Lowerys property each holiday season.

Lowerys annual lighting display his home is in Grant Ranchs Belmont subdivision has become a much-loved tradition in the community

People were coming to get candy for Halloween and were thanking him for putting the lights up at Christmas, said Shirley Lowery, Verns wife.

Following a tradition established by his parents, Vern Lowery continues decorating his home to monumental proportions.

The Lowerys house itself is outlined with the more standard white, icicle-style strings and adorned with wreaths. But similarities with most holiday decorating end there.

Lowery spends about three days decorating his yard. He says it takes up to two weeks to debug the entire display, making sure everything is timed right and that it works as designed.

He spends hours upon hours out here working and upkeeping, said Shellina Lowery, Lowerys daughter-in-law.

But its necessary work, to get everything just right.

Lowery takes the time to ensure the mechanical Santa Claus is alight and waving to passing cars. He checks to make sure the strings of lights in each of the bushes and trees are lighting up. He adjusts timers on any section that goes out too early.

Thats what were watching for the first couple of nights, Lowery said.

He typically decorates his home so its ready to go around the first weekend of December.

Saturday and Sunday were the first two nights his display lit the neighborhood and made other lighting displays seem dim in comparison.

And next week theyll really start coming, Lowery said. Itll be a logjam.

If driving the neighborhood to see Christmas lights is a tradition, then visiting Vern Lowerys house is equal to leaving milk and cookies out for Santa Claus for Grant Ranch residents.

People always come up to the door and say, Thank you for the lights; my children love it, said Pamella Lowery, Verns 11-year-old granddaughter.

The lighting display in all its glory is a bright beacon of hope for those who share Vern Lowerys Christmas spirit.

So all we have to do now is put him in a Santa suit and have him out here passing out candy, Shirley Lowery joked.

But since Vern has just as much decorating to do inside the house, a life-size Santa and Mrs. Claus outside the front door will have to suffice.

Vern Lowery said the Christmassy couple were the hardest pieces of his collection to acquire. Santa came first, with Mrs. Claus making her debut several years later. A few years ago, when their outfits wore out, Vern and Shirley hand-sewed new clothing for them.

Like Santa and Mrs. Claus, each piece came one year or another. Each holiday season, Vern Lowery adds new decorations and retires some older ones.

It takes a single-car garage to store it, Shirley Lowery said. And its packed full.

Some pieces come from local shops, and others from the Internet.

This years addition is a trio of white Christmas trees at the corner of the yard. Not just any old conifers, these trees light up to the tune of Christmas music playing from a built-in speaker.

I like them, said Pamella Lowery, who agreed the display gets better every year.

Ive known him for 24 years, and hes just been crazy about Christmas lights, Shirley Lowery said. Hed stack the whole yard if we let him.

But with just the right amount of work, Vern Lowerys display ends up a visual present for both his family and the scores of eager onlookers who pass by each holiday.

Vern and Shirleys newest granddaughter, Nevaeh, simply watched the display with wide eyes.

This is her first year actually being able to enjoy the lights, said Shellina Lowery, Nevaehs mother. Her favorite so far have been the fountain and the trees that play music.

Vern Lowerys fountain alone has 1,000 blue and white lights, and looks as though it has frozen over with luminescent water.

We have new neighbors this year, Shirley Lowery said. I wondered what theyll think when they see these lights.

Contact Matt Gunn at matt@evergreenco.com.