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Lights, reindeer, manger scene, inflatable Santa, action!

November 26, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

Today Jeff Latta will watch out.

He certainly won't cry.

He's not going to pout.

And I'll tell you why.

He's a U.S. Marine. So he'll already have a plan when he starts to decorate his girlfriend's front yard with approximately 1,500 lights today.

He's tested the lights and sketched out how to line them up. He's prepared for blown fuses.

He's done this before. He's even placed in contests for holiday dcor.

And all because he was impressed by his paper carrier's holiday decorations 25 years ago and wanted to try something like that himself.

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Once Thanksgiving is past, many Tri-State-area residents begin decorating their homes and yards for the holiday season, especially for Christmas.

How far they go with those decorations is up to personal taste - and to their stamina.

Latta, 46, of Hagerstown, expected to have finished his own front yard Friday before beginning on the Maugansville home of his girlfriend, Janell Ocker, today.

Latta planned to accent his house, trees and fences with lights and set up a large nativity scene and plastic carolers in his yard.

He's going even further at Ocker's house.

There will be a Santa on the roof who appears about to climb into the chimney and a halogen movie projector to project Christmas symbols such as a wrapped present on Ocker's house.

This year Latta's adding a large inflatable nativity scene she liked and building a landing strip with green and red lights for the inflatable motorcycle-riding Santa.

Richard Harbaugh also is adding to his exterior holiday decorations, going for what he called a more authentic look.

Harbaugh, 47, got a white metal reindeer last year, but this year got a reindeer and a Santa sleigh made with frosted grapevine that makes the reindeer more realistic looking.

He was initially considering having eight reindeer, as in Donner, Blitzen, and the others, but might limit the sled team to just four due to the size of his yard.

Harbaugh also bought two, taller, more realistic looking artificial trees for his front porch. The old ones looked too fake, he said, and he wanted his decorations to look as natural as possible.

Now if he could just find a natural-looking manger scene. He'd like to pose a Santa as if he is looking at the manger scene.

"I think it's nice to spread the (Christmas) spirit. Santa Claus is definitely not Christmas to me. It's decoration. It puts people in the mood," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said he was raised on a farm with no neighbors nearby so his family didn't get the yard decked out for the holidays the way he does now that he lives south of Maugansville.

Adam Himmelwright said his parents went with traditional wreaths in the windows and homemade lawn ornaments, including a wooden Santa with reindeer his grandfather made.

"Now that I have my own house to decorate, there's just going to be as many lights as I can afford," said Himmelwright, 27, of Greencastle, Pa.

He's been planning to outline the single-story rancher, including the roof, windows and doors, with multicolored lights since he and his wife, Amanda, 26, moved in February.

As of Tuesday, he had about 700 to 800 lights, but was thinking he'd need to buy some more to get the job done.

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