Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The Cox home on the corner of Lemon Tree Drive and Almond Avenue is a holiday treat to see.
After 12 years of a full-out Christmas display, Jeff Cox’s house on the corner of Lemon Tree Drive and West Almond Avenue has become known as the Madera Christmas House.
Check out the house’s Facebook page for proof. However, with more than 30 inflatables and more than 1,000 lights among other decorations, Cox’s house is something he’s been doing for more than 25 years.
“We’ve decorated every year I’ve been in Madera,” he said. “I started decorating in Nevada 25 years ago. They had a competition and every one was trying to one-up each other. There were some big prizes. If someone got one Santa, I had to get two. At the time, there wasn’t a lot of inflatables. You had blow molds and lights so you had to get creative,”
Although his front yard isn’t very big, he makes use of every square inch he has.
“We make use of the space we have,” he said. “I bought a new inflatable this year and I wanted to put it on the roof. But it wouldn’t work because it would blow off. But, I just couldn’t pass it up. We also do a Santa’s village in the garage. We were running out of space. The first year, we did it by the front door. Then, I thought about walling off part of the garage and do a scene in there. It looked great. Over the years, I’ve accumulated more stuff for it. This year, we have brand new wallpaper and redo the whole thing. It’s the last thing to get done.”
Among the 30 inflatables, most of whimsical themes, Cox’s house features lighted reindeer, lighted Christmas trees and even an old playhouse that is turned into a Christmas-themed gingerbread house. He even has his lights synchronized to music.
“We try to pack it full,” he said. “If you walk down the sidewalk, you’ll see something different. We do it that way on purpose. That way you can see a totally different thing from one point than you would at another.”
Over the years, Cox had collected items for his display, but first they have to get the approval of his wife, Anna.
“Some things just show up at the house,” she said. “I don’t even know about it until it’s here. I pick stuff out, too.”
“We shop during Black Friday or right after Christmas,” Cox said. “New items this year are the Grinch, the Mickey Mouse by the front door, the elf that pops out of the bag and a candy castle inflatable. It’s got to appeal to me. If she says she likes something, then we know it’s good. She doesn’t like everything.”
However, Cox had some items stolen from his Halloween display so he now has his Christmas display under video surveillance, However, Cox is thrilled to be able to see people enjoy his display from the comfort of his couch.
“We have new cameras so we can watch them in the house,” he said. “We see kids running around and enjoying the display. The kids love it.”
Cox puts out his Christmas display because he likes to see the reactions on the kids faces when they see it and also to bring joy to the many people who watch his display.
“People have brought us candies and cookies,” he said. “We get letters in the mail addressed to Santa.”
“We had a grandmother send us a picture her grandson drew of our house,” Anna said. “I thought that was cool. We get a lot of positive reactions. We had a mom taking video and pictures of our house to send to her husband in Afghanistan. That was cool. Halfway around the world, people are looking at pictures of our house. Other parents tell us they use our house to get their kids to behave. They beg to see our house every night. As long as they are good, they will bring them.”
Cox says that kids have come for years to his house and notices new items or where they are placed.
“People will notice the new things and notice when things are in a different spot,” he said. “We had one guy say because of us, his kids insisted he decorate. He went down and bought $1,000 worth of inflatables because his kids wanted a house like mine.”
Cox is hosting a canned food drive for he Madera County Food Bank on Dec. 22 from 5-9 p.m. He will be serving hot chocolate and candy canes and accepting food for the needy. He even said Santa may even visit.
“We will have a bin out for the food drive,” he said. “They don’t have to bring food for the hot chocolate.”
However, Christmas isn’t the only time he decorates. He has now expanded to the other holidays, including a skeleton-themed pirate display for Halloween.
“The next one is Valentine’s day,” he said. “I have giant hearts and a giant leprechaun. After that is Easter and we have some patriotic inflatables for July 4.”
In the end, it’s all about spreading the Christmas joy through his display for Cox and his wife.
“All night, we’ll have cars drive by real slow,” he said. “It doesn’t stop. We like people to come by and see our display. We’ve had cars park in front of our house and listen to the music and watch the display.”
“We know there are a lot of people,” Anna said. “We don’t know how many. We hear them and they are singing and dancing.”
“We spend a lot of money every year to spread the cheer,” Cox said. “We don’t go on vacation, we’re here every day.”