Holiday light displays in Kirkland benefit various causes
By ELEANOR MUELLER
Kirkland Reporter Intern
December 21, 2012 · 9:53 AM
Close on the heels of the 12K’s of Christmas, Kirkland now celebrates the holidays in yet another way – with its local neighborhoods’ extravagant Christmas lights. From brightly-lit Corgies to arches that flash along with “Jingle Bells,” houses across town are stepping up their holiday-decoration game, and benefitting a variety of causes in the process.
First on the tour are the McConnells, who reside at 13837 101st Place N.E. Their decorations have been a community favorite for years, with more than 50,000 lights serving to draw visitors from far and wide. Set to 22 minutes of music streamed from an FM radio station (107.3), the couple’s display, which includes a 15-foot-tall rotating tree, is so impressive that one year a stranger actually paid their electrical bill for them.
“It’s like a winter wonderland,” says Barbara McConnell. “We have a stream, a waterfall, deer and trees, as well as lights on the house that look like falling snow.”
However, they didn’t do it for the fame. The lights are in memory of their late Corgie, Sam, who “used to love interacting with the people who came to see the lights,” Barbara says.
“Ever since he passed away, we’ve kept making them bigger and bigger in his honor.” If visitors look closely, they can see a white, decorated Corgie, whose lights are kept on in Sam’s remembrance.
The McConnells keep a bucket outside for donations to Pasado Safe Haven, an animal sanctuary located outside Seattle. While there is no pressure to contribute, Barbara admits that “it’s nice when we hear car doors opening and closing.”
The display’s profits are sizable enough to be featured on Pasado’s website, and the couple makes it a priority to place the lights each year.
“We even put them up the year my husband broke his hip!” tells Barbara. “He was on the roof putting them up in the rain when he fell off – all our friends came and helped us finish.”
The show runs from around 5-9 p.m. every night, but lasts until 11 p.m. on weekends and 12 a.m. on holidays (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day).
Mauricio Stoppa, at 12836 N.E. 132nd Place, is responsible for the next awe-inspiring display.
What started as a high school graduation project for the former Juanita student has developed over the past three years to include more than 20,000 lights, all of which are synchronized to music. Songs include All I Want For Christmas Is You, Jingle Bells, and Frosty the Snowman, and can be listened to at FM radio station 101.9.
With the show running from 5-10 p.m. each night, Mauricio says the best compliment he’s received on his display is simply returning visitors.
“I was flattered when a woman came with her children and had the radio station memorized. She told me she’d been looking forward to seeing the lights all year.”
His favorite part about this year’s set-up are the arches over the driveway, which “kind of look like fireworks.”
There’s a basket outside for food donations to Hopelink, “a food bank close to home so visitors can be contributing to their community.”
You can’t miss Anthony Mish’s Kirkland home, with a huge illuminated Seahawks’ logo welcoming visitors above his front door.
Mish, a contractor by trade, has thousands of lights strung outside his home, but also offers a unique treat to visitors.
Inside his house, located at 11217 N.E. 100th St. in Kirkland, is a mini-winter wonderland of sorts, with several flowing streams and waterfalls, ponds, snow and illuminated miniature houses.
He has set up donation boxes where visitors can drop off canned food, or donations for Toys for Tots, Seattle Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Mish could not be reached for comment.
Kirkland Reporter intern Eleanor Mueller can be reached at email@example.com
Contact Kirkland Reporter Intern Eleanor Mueller at firstname.lastname@example.org.