Pasco farm decked out for Christmas

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldDecember 21, 2013 

PASCO -- Tease Dwight Johnson of Pasco about the number of Christmas lights he puts up and he'll readily admit he goes a bit overboard.

Lights are strung on every building, even the dog house. They're hung among the branches of 85 trees. They're wrapped around the top rail of his fence, on the arbor, on some old farm equipment and they run up three tall crosses in his yard.

Even his wife's planters are adorned.

And that's not counting the decorations he's created out of steel rod welded into igloos, a polar bear and a flat sculpture of the Polar Express train.

Yes, those also sport hundreds of colored lights -- twinkling lights, chasing lights, lights that change color.

The Johnsons also bought a variety of seasonal decorations, including a Nativity scene and 33 reindeer.

And just who is responsible for the over-the-top decorating? Johnson admits sheepishly, "It's me. It's my obsession."

"My neighbors razz me that they can tell when my Christmas lights go on because theirs at home go dim," he said, grinning.

Neighbors Frank and Carol Brock said they love the light display.

"I have coffee with friends at McDonalds and tell everyone that there are beautiful displays in town but they are nothing like his," said Frank Brock, calling the display well thought out and artistic.

"What he does is not cheap; he has a lot tied up in there in bulbs, but he loves doing it," Brock said.

Dwight has always put up some lights but began to ramp up the display about six or seven years ago.

The Johnsons say their December bill runs a total of $400 to $500 higher than other winter months.

But the lights are a gift to the community, said his wife, Paula Johnson.

People are welcome to visit, make the circuit past the house and around the shop. You can't easily walk among the decorations because of the many, many extension cords connecting them.

"We get about 15 or so cars a night," Paula said. "Last Christmas Eve we had 25 or 30 come through."

Dwight begins putting up lights the first week of September, working several hours a day.

He once used ladders and had his wife lift him high in the front bucket of their tractor. Sometimes he even placed a ladder in the bucket, hoisted it high and climbed heavenwards with his lights.

"I put a stop to that this year," Paula said. "I got on the internet and found a boom truck for sale that we could afford. I didn't want to come outside and find him on the ground one day."

As much as Dwight enjoys the secular side of Christmas, he also reinforces the reason for the season with messages held high.

An old windmill becomes a large blue star some 20-feet above the ground along with a reminder -- "Christ the Savior is Born" -- in lights along the framework.

A 16-foot snowman made last summer holds a banner proclaiming, "Jesus is King."

Other, similar messages are interspersed among the lights.

"Christmas is really about celebrating the life of Jesus," he said. "We need to remember that."

"I tell Dwight he's letting the light shine for Jesus," Paula said with a smile.

The Johnsons live on several acres off Birch Street in Franklin County. When the lights are on, their ranch looks like a small city high atop a hill overlooking Taylor Flats Road.

"We really have the ideal location for this," Paula said.

The Johnsons have 200 amp electrical service in the shop and all the outdoor lights, except those on the house, run off that.

"When I max out my power grid I'll stop," Dwight joked.

As for the number of lights, Dwight said, "at best guess 300,000 or 400,000. After the first 100,000 it's hard to keep track."

The lights come on about 5 p.m. and go off at 10 p.m. He'll keep the lights burning at night until Dec. 30 and then begin to take them down, starting with the big trees first.

"We get some good winds up here on the hill and it rips up the cords," he said.

Then the trick becomes the storage. They have a loft in the shop and the majority go up there in plastic tubs.

"I tuck the rest anywhere I can," he said.

Here are some other homes Tri-City residents thought had outstanding Christmas light displays. Find them on our online map at www.tricityherald.com/lights:

Pasco

-- 3521 W. Opal Place

-- 4115 Yuma Drive

-- 4502 Meadowview Drive

-- 6703 W. Olivia Court

-- The Desert Plateau neighborhood; take Road 36 and Road 44 to enter the area.

Richland

-- 130 Broadmoor St.

-- 1111 Abbot St.

-- 147 Spring St. (near Hanford High)

-- 1103 Sunset St.

-- 3536 Nottingham Drive

-- 1619 Mesquite Court

-- 2620 Sandpiper Loop

-- 1618 Brittlebush Lane

-- 2385 Copperbrook Court

Kennewick

-- 1916 W. 21st Place

-- 1015 N. Fillmore Place

-- 2121 N. Rhode Island Court

-- 4101 S. Keller St.

-- 515 W. Kennewick Ave.

-- 1305 W. 21st Ave.

-- 1122 S. Jefferson Place

-- Christmas Carol Lane, off Garfield Street. Drive up the hill on Garfield and watch for the signs.

-- 7008 W. Victoria Ave.

-- 338 S. Highland Drive

-- 1305 W. 21st Ave.

West Richland

-- 1420 Mazzard Ave.

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