Couple's light fantastic tradition shines on; 'it's our gift' to FWay


Staff writer

Joe and Stephani CavenderŽ’s Christmas tradition is continuing to grow, despite JoeŽ’s claim heŽ’s been too busy this year to do as much as he wanted.

Every year for six years, the Cavenders have added more lights. TheyŽ’re up to 13,000 now ŽÑŽÊmore than 3,000 on the deer alone.

Joe has installed what is essentially a surge protector to provide a few more watts and to keep all the strings of lights safe from shorts and sparks.

Ž“After doing it for so long, you learn what to do and what not to do,Ž” he said.

Joe just added Ž“a few thingsŽ” this year, including a new skyline of Seattle, a drummer boy, a few Santas climbing lit ladders, a train on the roof and more lights on the ground.

They join a Space Needle replica, UFOs, Mt. Rainier, angels, several reindeer in the yard and thousands and thousands of big and small, multi-colored lights.

Next year heŽ’ll be retiring a star on the roof to install a lit display of an erupting Mt. St. Helens. He also plans to put up a helicopter with spinning rotors and Santa on board.

Ž“I just keep adding and adding and adding,Ž” he said.

Maintenance takes some time, particularly with mischievous neighborhood animals, and itŽ’s not limited to the holidays. Joe leaves many of the lights up year-round to cut down on the amount of work he has to do each Christmas.

Ž“Birds work on them,Ž” he said. Ž“Squirrels are a real problem. Every once in awhile, IŽ’ll look out and see a squirrel running across the street with a bulb in its mouth.Ž”

Adding new lights and getting existing ones ready for the holidays is a lot of work ŽÑŽÊand takes about 100 hours ŽÑŽÊbut Joe said itŽ’s worth it to see the faces of children who come to visit.

People begin circulating in October, wondering when heŽ’s going to turn the lights on, he said.

The Cavenders usually turn on the Christmas lights right after Thanksgiving.

Shortly after that, people start driving by with their kids and their cameras. Joe said people from work bring over their kids, too.

Ž“ThatŽ’s what itŽ’s about, the kids,Ž” he said.

Ž“And since we donŽ’t have any of our own, this is our gift to the community,Ž” Stephani added.

Joe admits itŽ’s an extravagant display, but he said itŽ’s important to preserve the spirit of Christmas.

Ž“Whatever you do, even if you just hang a bow on the door, itŽ’s cool,Ž” he said. Ž“Just get into the spirit.Ž”

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and

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