By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Driving by 300 Broadway Avenue North in Cokato, one will likely find it difficult to pass without stopping or, at the least, slowing down to look at the winter wonderland of lights and decorations.
Homeowner and creator Landon Steinhaus is used to traffic stopping in front of his house. His 7-year-old daughter, Austin is also getting used to being known as living in “the house with all the lights.”
Adorning the front yard during the holiday season is an array of decorations, from blowups to figurines, complete with a lighted archway over the driveway synchronized to the radio station, 102.9 LITE FM. “I dabble a little bit in everything,” Steinhaus said.
Elaborate decorating was something he started while living in Hutchinson, and it just grew when he moved to Cokato in 2002.
Each year as the season ends, Steinhaus goes shopping for deals on more lights and figurines for the next year’s decor. “A couple hundred dollars isn’t out of the question,” he said.
“The focus has been the conversion from old-style lights incandescent bulbs to the more energy-efficient LED bulbs,” Steinhaus said.
It’s something he remembers and cherished as a child riding around looking at lights.
“It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed,” he said.
Now, as an adult, it’s something he can do for other children, including his own, to enjoy.
“It’s always great fun to see the look on a kid’s face,” he said.
This year, he thought about scaling back a bit, he said. Then he thought of his neighbor boy, Taylor Tenhoff, who wasn’t able to be home for Christmas last year to enjoy the lights next door. Taylor was diagnosed in 2008 with severe aplastic anemia and had been in the hospital at the time awaiting his second bone marrow transplant.
Taylor has always enjoyed the light show next door, Steinhaus said, so he wanted to make sure he gave him that this year.
Decorating the yard has also become a tradition for the Steinhaus family.
The Saturday following Thanksgiving, there are about six family members who get together to set up the decorations and strings of lights.
They try and get as much done as they can in one day, but Steinhaus is usually out there the following two weekends completing the project. “I have help for the first day and after that, I’m on my own.” Steinhaus “stopped” decorating Dec. 11.
While his daughter Austin will ask, “Why does everyone have to know where we live?” she does like seeing the yard all lit up. Her favorite is the archway over the driveway because “it moves.”
The decorations also help the speed of traffic in front of the property, which is a plus, Steinhaus said. “We don’t have to worry about cars driving too fast [by our house] this time of year,” Steinhaus said.