Christmas preparations begin in July each year for the Specht household.

That’s when plans for their outdoor decorations start coming together.

For the past 25 years Sue and Arden Specht have dressed their home in festive holiday lighting.

Their decorations have even earned them a neighborhood nickname.

“Our neighbors joke that we are just about as bad as the Griswolds,” Arden said, referring to the film "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," where Chevy Chase's character Clark Griswold creates an over-the-top display.

The Specht's yard at 1614 Denver St. is filled with LED-lighted Christmas trees, reindeer and a Nativity scene. Three of their trees even play holiday music.

“We don’t have the music up too loud,” Sue said. “But we turn the volume up just a little on Christmas Day.”

The couple entered the chamber of commerce-sponsored Schuyler Home Lighting Contest, but they don't decorate each year to win prizes.

“The reason why we decorate so much every year is for the kids,” Sue said. “The kids across the street have grown up with looking out at our yard, and we always get so excited when a car drives by and stops to look at the yard.”

The couple share a lifelong love for the holiday season. Each has their own special memories of being with family members and driving around town to view Christmas displays.

“I remember when I was a kid one of the best things about Christmas was driving around looking at all the lights,” Arden said. “When I grew up I thought, if we can get to where we can do that one day, then we should do it.”

Assembly begins on Thanksgiving night. Two decades of practice has given the Spects plenty of expertise on how to organize and structure their lights.

“We keep the lights in a storage closet in the basement," Sue said. “Then we take them up into the garage and wipe down everything, even the cords. After we figure out where we want what, we get it all set up. I like for it all to look organized, just like making a little path out there for the horse and carriage.”

Of course, things don't always run smoothly.

“Last year we had a couple of rabbits and squirrels chew through the cables on one of our trees,” Sue said. “Arden had to fix it up just about six times. We weren’t sure if it would still work after all that.”

Despite the work it takes to light up their home for Christmas, Sue said the smiles on passing children’s faces makes it all worthwhile.

“We believe it’s the best way to give back to the community,” she said. “Sometimes I’m stopped in the grocery store by someone telling me how much they loved my house. They thank me for decorating. That is exactly why we still do this, to make people happy for Christmastime.”

Other entries in the holiday decorating contest are Daryl and Patty Holmberg at 1904 H St. and Fabiola Marino at 316 W. 11th St.

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