Kennewick woman has a different kind of Christmas display

Tara Didier's holiday colors aren't those of evergreens and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. She is loyal to red, white and blue and the U.S. flag.

That's why the Kennewick woman's front yard at 220 E. First Ave. stands apart from the other inflatable Santas and snowmen around town.

Her display has mannequins in a classroom scene, showing students, a teacher and a disabled Army veteran in a wheelchair.

Not a sign of Christmas can be found.

The school blackboard reads: "It's your right not to stand for the Pledge (of Allegiance) but let me introduce you to someone who can't stand because he was defending that right."

Didier said she has watched 30 to 40 cars a night stop in front of her home to take a look since she finished setting up the tableau last Sunday afternoon.

The scene was inspired by a patriotic cartoon she got in September from her niece, Michelle Stemsen of Pasco.

"I'm all about anything to do with the U.S. flag. Our flag means the world to me," said Didier, who also volunteers for the U.S. Troop Care Package effort in the Tri-Cities.

She has red, white and blue lights arranged in the shape of the flag in her front window, and the lights on her Christmas tree look like a flag draped around it.

Didier created the outdoor classroom from scratch, starting with a tented car cover and the large blackboard.

A woman in Moses Lake who was advertising antique school desks for $30 each cut the price to $10, and even delivered them to Didier.

And a vendor at The Loft antique mall in Richland offered her a complete Vietnam era Army uniform, and the owner of the Cool Beans consignment store on Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick provided the teacher mannequin.

"Anybody I talked to wanted to help," Didier said.

The soldier's mannequin head came from Victoria's Academy in Kennewick, and all the wigs are from a senior center thrift store in Pendleton.

The Social Club Salon in Kennewick gave the soldier an appropriate man's haircut, and Didier's sister, Lisa Hall, helped her put pantyhose faces on the plywood cutout school children, who are clothed in their Sunday best.

And it was Hall's idea to lay on a heavy lipstick kiss on each child's face so the mouths would look real.

"Christmas is supposed to be spent with friends, family and loved ones. And those guys in the military aren't getting to be with their loves ones, so we should give them lots of respect and thanks," Didier said.

"And everyone everywhere should be saying a prayer every morning for a soldier. They are just awesome," she added.

Didier said she has been so encouraged by doing the project that she will do it again next year, even bigger.