Federal Way man with ‘biggest passion for Christmas’ lights up season with LEDs

Gleaming at the end of a cul-de-sac, Danny Quintero’s thousands of Christmas lights and decorations spill onto his neighbors’ front yard.

But they don’t mind, he says.

In fact, Quintero’s home outshines all of the houses on his street, arguably the neighborhood – possibly the city.

“I have the biggest passion for Christmas, more than anybody I know,” the Federal Way resident of two years said. “… My passion for Christmas has always been there, and it gets stronger every year.”

Growing up, Quintero said he had a rough childhood, but he always looked forward to Christmas.

“It’s kind of a typical story: Single mother raising four kids, no money to do anything, but somehow she managed to always make the house festive,” Quintero said, adding that she would use dollar store items or decorations from her childhood. “She always made sure we had that warm, fuzzy feeling.”

He started honing his own decorating skills early.

When he was 12 years old, Quintero began working on former SeaTac Mayor Gene Fisher’s Christmas tree.

For five years, he maintained the grounds. Christmas music blasted every season.

Quintero started to decorate his mom’s house after his brothers and sisters moved out.

He would often work odd jobs, such as trimming hedges, to earn money for Christmas lights. Soon, people started tagging him on Facebook, requesting his skills.

“Generally, I can get $1,000 out of decorating someone’s house,” Quintero said. “It’s one of those things: People see my product and, generally, they have a vision of what they want and allow me as an artist to decorate as I see fit.”

Quintero uses mostly LED lights and, on his own house, he’s had the pleasure of using his grandfather’s handmade Christmas displays.

The vintage decoration collector has also found collectors’ clubs selling candy canes from the 1960s in Buy, Sell, Trade groups. He found other items, such as an expensive 26-year-old village set, on Craigslist.

“One place I won’t let you see is the garage with all of the open boxes of lights,” he laughed.

Quintero’s creativity has taken more than one form, however.

By day he’s an “interstate specialist,” but on nights and weekends, he’s a jazz performer.

If you guessed his first album had something to do with Christmas, you’d be correct.

He released “Merry Christmas,” by Danny Quintero, pianist Randy Halsberstadt with special guests Clarence Acox and Katie Davis in 2013 and has performed 15 shows in December of this year alone.

Quintero and his band have a “solid” residency at 13 Coins in Seattle, have played at Benaroya Hall and he’s toured Italy.

While his music, decorations and two trees inside his house make the holiday season appear bright on the outside, this year – and all years to follow – Quintero hopes to replicate that same warm, fuzzy feeling for his 2 1/2-year-old daughter during the holiday season.

“Those sorts of memories, I just want those to last forever,” he said.

If others see his house and smile, too, then he’s done his job.

“It really is about trying to make an impact because everybody has their own struggles,” he said.

To view Quintero’s Christmas tree lights, visit the 2200 block of South 361st Street in Federal Way after 5 p.m. and before New Year’s Eve.

Federal Way man with ‘biggest passion for Christmas’ lights up season with LEDs