Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Tina and Jack Shannon of the Madera Ranchos have some unique lighted holiday decorations displayed in their front yard.
After four long days and more than 20,000 lights arranged, Jack and Tina Shannon finished their holiday decorations, but for them, the process is for their family and community.
“It’s great to give back to the community,” Jack Shannon said. “A lot of people can’t afford to do something like this, so if they can bring their children by and let them see the lights, it can be a gift to the kids.”
The tradition started in 1997 when the family moved to the Madera Ranchos. The Shannons started decorating for their kids, and that has grown over the years to include their grandkids as well.
“We grew up in the country where we didn’t have neighbors and our driveway was a mile long and nobody ever came, so I never put lights up,” Jack said. “When we moved, I said we could put lights up and that’s what we did. Our kids are grown now, and they have kids of their own, so we do it for them.”
While 20,000 might seem a lot to imagine, the Shannon’s have outdone themselves in the past.
“I used to put up 300,000,” Jack said. “We had bushes and trees, so everything was lit up.”
The Shannons have had some changes throughout the years. Their lights are no longer incandescent and are all LED now. Although pricier, the look and energy-saving ability provide benefits too good to pass up. The Shannon’s purchase their lights from a public auction on Frontage Road.
“If you had to buy all of this in the store, it would probably be $10,000 to $12,000. I would say we have about $1,000 worth, so it’s a really good deal,” Jack said.
In terms of time it takes to get everything done, the Shannons, along with some tiny helpers, get it all done in just a few days.
“It’s just us, but we had four of the grandkids come over and help us out a little bit,” Tina said. “Our 10-year-old granddaughter drove the golf cart and we would load the trailer and bring them up to the front. We would unload the trailer and the little boys would tell us where to put them. We try to switch it up every year. So, about a day setting up the big stuff and my husband and I do the lights.”
The look of the house is not only appreciated by the family, but also passersby. Whether it’s the reindeer, the snowman, or Olaf from the movie “Frozen,” the Shannon’s home is a sight for all to enjoy.
“I put it on the Ranchos’ site that if you have young children to enjoy the lights. I post the address, so they can come by, and they will,” Tina said. “They’ll come by really slow and one time we had the gate open and we looked outside and saw the kids running up and down the yard checking out the lights.”
Not only is the house decorated on the outside, the inside of the home is equally touched with a little holiday spirit.
Ten different Christmas trees grace the Shannon home in all different sizes. From the main tree in the family room of the house, to smaller trees that decorate each room, the Shannon’s are all about family during this time of the year.
“Everyone comes over for Christmas morning and we have breakfast and everything,” Jack said. “It’s all about our kids and grandkids — that’s the main thing. When our kids were young, we didn’t travel to my parents or Tina’s parents. We told our family that Christmas is for the kids and if they wanted to see their grandkids, they have to come to us.
“We all have those memories as kids where we get a gift and then now it’s time to go. We have to go to this place, or grandma’s house. You’re looking at all your toys and wondering why you have to leave without playing with them, it’s got to be horrible for a kid.”
The Shannons have two daughters and a son, along with six grandkids that all live in the Madera Ranchos.
“They all live in the Ranchos, we are nice and close,” Tina said happily.
When asked whether the kids were born with the decorating gene, the Shannon’s pointed to their own lights as a means of sharing.
“Not as crazy as we are, they just come to our house and enjoy it,” Tina said.