For Matt, James, Jeff and Mindy Harhut, lighting up the neighborhood with Christmas cheer has become a way of life. The three brothers began decorating what’s now known as the Peckville Christmas House, 1128-1130 Marion St., in the 1990s. Mindy married James in 2008 and happily joined into the tradition.
This year, the brightest houses in Peckville debuted on Thanksgiving night. The public can visit Mondays through Thursdays, 5-9 p.m. and Fridays through Sundays, 5-10 p.m. Read on to find out more about the Harhuts’ labor of love.
Q: How did this display start?
A: Matt, Jeff and James are brothers. Matt and Jeff live in the two homes with the adjoining properties. Matt built his home, and Jeff bought our childhood home from our parents. James lives within a close proximity to the “Peckville Christmas Houses.”
When we were younger, our parents took us looking at Christmas lights every year. We became obsessed with lights! Money was tight growing up, and we had some lights but wanted more. Our parents had a few strands of lights around the front door and around the windows with a small blow mold of Santa and his reindeer. We would go garbage picking for lights and then would try to repair them so they could be added to our display. We would spend days tinkering with the lights. We all did our fair share in getting the lights up and running and maintaining them throughout the holiday season. To this day, we are a well-oiled machine!
The display slowly grew into what it is today. It got to a point where people just started driving by every year to see our light display. Then all of a sudden, people decided to get out of their cars and wander the property looking at the lights and the amazing sights they provided. Every year, it seems people come from further away to see our display.
Q: Where do you find all these incredible blow molds and decorations?
A: Many of our blow molds come from flea markets. Some were also purchased on the internet or families donate their unwanted blow molds. We have recently started creating some of our own unique pieces. Jeff’s favorite blow molds are the vintage municipal decorations that had hung off the utility poles throughout the valley. Matt is ecstatic over the new mechanical Poloron Snowman, which was recently donated. James’ favorite part of the display is the ability to push one button and turn every light on in the display!
Q: How long does it take you to set this up?
A: It takes us approximately 10 weeks to set up our display. First, we string the lights. Second, we put up all the silhouettes on the outside of the buildings. Third, we put the peppermints and lights on the roof. Fourth, we hang up all the municipal decorations. Fifth, we rent a lift and hang all the lights that we are unable to reach with ladders. Next, we prep the property for the path then set up the forest. Then it’s time to call in the troops — friends and family — to help us move and sort the blow molds. It takes about a week to pound in all the stakes and position the blow molds. Then we have the daunting task of plugging in the miles of extension cords and checking and double checking they’re not overloaded. We test the lights several times before the official lighting on Thanksgiving night. Many people have a hand in helping with our display. The homeowners, Matt and Jeff, are the main organizers, and James is the electrician. Mindy runs the Facebook page.
Q: Did you have to make any changes this year because of the coronavirus pandemic?
AL We are making some changes to our display due to the pandemic. We have made the path a little wider. There are two separate paths leading from Marion Street to the alley, and they will be one-way. We are asking that people wear their masks, space themselves apart, limit their time and keep moving so everyone has the ability to enjoy the lights. We really wanted to continue the tradition that has become a tradition for so many in our area and even out of our area. We feel that our display can continue to bring so much joy to those that visit, and it is really needed this year!
Q: Other than bringing some cheer to the neighborhood with your elaborate decorations, what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
A: We really love spending time with our friends and family that gather to make memories every year. Our display also allows us to make connections with others that have a true passion for decorating their homes.
Our community supports our efforts and backs us 100%. Blakely Borough even honored us with a proclamation that proclaims Dec. 18, 2017 as Matt and Jeff Day in Blakely after being in The Great Christmas Light Fight in 2017.
We also can’t forget all the tasty treats and goodies we indulge in that come with the holiday season!