Residents light up homes

Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo Tom and Shirley Cross decorate their home on the corner of South Avenue A and Eighth Street each year for the holidays.

By Alisa Boswell

Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas and Halloween are just a few of the holidays Danny Kendrick of Clovis decorates his front yard on Grand.

Kendrick, who has been decorating his house for every holiday he can think the last 16 1/2 years, said he was originally inspired by seeing a local tree trimming service, which had decorated it’s four tree lots with lights for Christmas. Kendrick said he wanted to do the same but not just for Christmas. For every holiday.

“It’s just nice to break the monotony of a house by decorating it for each holiday,” said Kendrick. “I like to see the expression on people’s faces when they go by.”

Kendrick said for Christmas time each year, he also paints and decorates the windows of local businesses and a few private homes. The McDonald’s in Clovis and Portales, Ace Triangle Hardware, Kripple Creek and Foxy’s Drive-In are just a few decorated businesses that are Kendrick’s handiwork.

“I’ve been decorating and painting my entire life,” said Kendrick. “So it’s just something I enjoy doing.”

Another avid Clovis decorator is Jeremy Beevers on Plains Street, who has decorated his house for Christmas every year since he moved into it three years ago. Beevers said he enjoys putting up the lights and decorations for his two children and for other Clovis citizens to enjoy.

“They both like them,” said Beevers, speaking of his two daughters. “Every time we go down the street, they say, ‘There’s our house’ and ‘look at all the lights.’ They’re super happy.”

Beevers said putting up Christmas lights with his dad when he was a child has probably contributed to his desire to do the same. He said his favorite part is the expression on his daughters’ faces when the house lights up.

Although his main motive for putting up decorations is for the enjoyment of others, Beevers admitted he also enjoys it for the competition with his uncle.

“He competes with it,” said Beevers’ wife, Melanie, laughing. “If he sees someone with other stuff, he goes and gets more.”

Beevers uncle, Jack Merchant of Clovis said he has been putting decorations up since he moved into his home five years ago. Merchant said it originally started with his wife buying a discounted Christmas decoration one year and continued to grow.

Merchant said last year, his nephew bought an eight-foot-tall pole for a Christmas tree in his front yard, so Merchant went and bought a 10-foot-tall pole for his yard.

“He does something then of course, I have to out do him,” said Merchant, laughing. “We keep adding each year to try to out do each other.”

Tom Cross in Portales is another long-term Christmas decorator, who has been at it for 28 years. Cross said he lived in Las Vegas, Nev., for 25 years in a neighborhood highly competitive with its Christmas decorating. Cross said he continued his Christmas decorating after moving to Portales three years ago, because he likes to see people stop and slow down in their cars to enjoy the lights and decorations of his yard.

“It’s worth it to make people happy,” said Cross’ wife, Shirley. “Hopefully some of that happiness will be spread throughout the rest of the year.”

Cross’ decorating is not limited to the yard. His living room and kitchen are covered in Christmas decorations and holiday music plays in the background.

“I think a variety of color catches people’s eyes in different ways,” said Cross. “You can never have too much. It’s just affording it.”

“If he could, he’d fill up the backyard too,” said Melanie.

Another Portales couple who decorates every year is Jeff Gutzler and Billie Knox. They started doing it for their grandchildren six years ago and have continued it since.

“We love to see the look on their faces when the lights light up,” said Knox. “And they all expect him to do it and if he doesn’t, they ask, ‘Why didn’t Big Papa do the lights?’”

Knox said her husband is a truck driver and after driving across country, he always comes back with ideas of more decorations to add or different changes to make.

“He has fun doing it,” said Knox. “The best thing is probably once you see everything connected and see it all come to life.”