Arbutus resident lights up street for Christmas

With its waving snowman, Santa's sleigh, holiday train and bouquet of poinsettias, David McIntyre's home is a sight to behold in Arbutus on winter nights.

"The exact number of lights I don't know," McIntyre admitted. "It's a lot. There's a lot of animation. My nephew drove by my house and said he needed to put his sunglasses on.

"I don't think it is quite that bad," he said.

It's hard to believe that Christmas isn't really his forte.

"Halloween is actually a little bit more elaborate," McIntyre said. "But it is only for two nights."

When the two nights are over – the day before and the day of Halloween – McIntyre takes everything down, a long, tiresome job after setting it all up.

That was also it for major decorating outside his home on First Avenue. That is, until five years ago when his mother started complaining.

"My mom got upset with me when she saw the house decorated for Halloween and not decorated for Christmas," McIntyre said. "After Halloween, I'm so exhausted I didn't even think about Christmas. It started out with icicle lights."

Every year since, he has added more to the display. This year, he and his brother-in-law made a suspended train track for the porch. Now a train going round and round adds to number of items in motion in front of the single-family residence on the short street off Francis Avenue.

"It sorted of evolved. It kept growing and growing," McIntyre said. "I'm getting close to the point where I will be filled. I might start moving things around then."

He said he is always looking for ideas, and has a few on his list as future projects for the light show.

"I would like to turn the whole front porch into Santa's workshop," McIntyre said.

His second goal is influenced by his mother.

"I'm back to keeping mom pleased," McIntyre laughed. "She is not pleased that I don't have a Nativity [scene}."

Another person who is pleased with the lights is McIntyre's neighbor, William Griffin, who lives across the street.

"I like it myself, personally," said Griffin, who puts a few decorations up to add to the block's festive atmosphere.

"I'm all in favor of decorating if I get a chance," Griffin said. "I don't have the time."

While McIntyre's house is the main attraction on First Avenue, other portions of the street are also lively. Sponge Bob and Hello Kitty are on one lawn, a large lit tree is on another and the famous 'leg lamp' from the movie "A Christmas Story' is featured on another house.

Griffin agrees that the street "looks good," and credits McIntyre's influence.

"They come and go," Griffin said, of the other decorations. "People decorate one year, but not the next. He's [McIntyre] been right with it every year."

Traffic does increase when the lights are lit, McIntyre said, and a few people even stop and get out.

"A pretty steady stream of cars go by from 6 to 8 [p.m.]," McIntyre said of the evening attention. "It hasn't gotten to the point where the police need to direct traffic. I haven't had any complaints"

Many have told him that their favorite part of the display is the countdown to Christmas clock. Others say they like the animated Santa and sleigh on the roof, which is always a tricky one for McIntyre to put up.

"I am not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of falling. I don't do the roof," McIntyre said.

He calls on friends and family to help him with the set-up and take-down of the display.

Throughout the season, he said, his house is a mess as it is filled with the Halloween decorations he can't put away until the Christmas items are stashed.

Since he is on the Baltimore Gas & Electric budget plan, McIntyre says he doesn't see a big difference in his electric bill during the holidays, even though he keeps the lights lit daily from 5 to 11 p.m. on weeknights and from 5 p.m. to midnight on weekends. The lights are lit every night through New Year's.

"I'm not sure I want to know," McIntyre said, of his electric bill. "As I've added more, I switched more of the lights to LEDs. It is amazing the savings. One strand of [old] 25 lights takes up more energy than a lot of the LED animated lights combined. It's amazing how efficient they are."

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