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2003 Article

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Christmas at the Fischer's Place was featured in this December 5, 2003 article which ran in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune:

Holiday light displays feature ingenuity and innovation

Tim Harlow, Star Tribune
Published December 5, 2003

Gray skies and barren trees dot the December landscape by day, but come nightfall the drab scene gives way to dazzling light shows, courtesy of hundreds of Twin Cities homeowners who have erected lavish displays that will glow right through New Year's.

You'll find them at places such as Bob and Sandy Kendall's home at 1645 Lake Lucy Rd. in Chanhassen, where traffic often comes to a standstill and legions abandon their vehicles to walk through their sprawling spectacle of 250,000 lights, a merry-go-round, several cartoon characters and a Nativity scene.

In Eagan, Mike Strand says his display is the "best-kept secret south of the Minnesota River." Yet a parade of limousines and buses seem to find its way to 2048 Quartz Lane, where dozens of homemade wooden lawn ornaments and 20,000 lights turn the night into day.


Tim and Cathy Fischer have developed an extensive computer-controlled lighting display in their yard at 16700 33rd Av. N. in Plymouth.

Allen Smith
  Special To The Star Tribune

The amps are working overtime at Tim and Cathy Fischer's home in Plymouth, where a computer-controlled multimedia display has 25,000 lights flashing in time to music that's broadcast over a low-frequency FM radio station.

Add up all the ingenuity, innovation and, of course, a personal touch, and we have some of the best holiday light displays in the United States, said author and pop-culture commentator David Seidman, whose new book "Holiday Lights!" pays tribute to the 80 million homeowners who put on electric extravaganzas.

"The Twin Cities is a very good place for lights," said Seidman, a longtime lights aficionado. "In some [other cities], one person will put up a display, but there a lot of people put up a lot of displays, and there are many strong homes and neighborhoods."

Several Minnesota decorators -- the Kendalls and the Fischers among them -- are mentioned in the book (Storey Publishing, $16.95), for which Seidman corresponded with hundreds of light lovers to compile the 180-page ode to an amalgam of wackiness, whimsy and wizardry that has reached pop-cult status.

"One of the nice things about holiday lights is that it's very individual," Seidman said. "It's expressions of the people putting up the lights and lighting the way they want it. I have a great fondness for eccentricity and for those who say: Who cares what everybody else thinks?"

The Fischers don't. They love sharing Christmas with the world, and this year they have a Web site (http://www.plymouthlights.com) complete with photos; those who drive past 16700 33rd Av. N. can listen to holiday music they broadcast over a low-frequency radio station 24 hours a day.

"We have a sign so I figured I'd better be playing something [even if the lights are not on]," said Tim Fischer, a software engineer.

While the Fischers have taken the technology route, Jerry Fink adds an interactive human touch to his "North Pole" theme display at 239 Dessa Lane in South St. Paul. Most evenings, Fink plays Santa and his neighbor Dennis Peterson dresses as the Grinch when they mingle with guests and accept donations for a local charity.

"I love to slither in between cars and jump out at the kids," Peterson said. "They smile and say 'You rock.' "

As do many of the Twin Cities' light displays.

Tim Harlow is at harlow@startribune.com .

Copyright 2003 Star Tribune. Republished here with the permission of the Star Tribune.  No further republication or redistribution is permitted without the express approval of the Star Tribune

 

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