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 is now known as Peckville Christmas House, 1128-1130 Marion St., in the 1990s. Mindy married James in 2008 and happily joined in the tradition.
This year, Peckville’s brightest homes debuted on Thanksgiving night. The public can visit from Monday to Thursday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and from Friday to Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Read on to learn more about the Harhut’s labor of love.
Q: How did this posting start?
A: Matt, Jeff and James are brothers. Matt and Jeff live in the two houses with the adjoining properties. Matt built his house and Jeff bought our childhood home from our parents. James lives near the “Christmas houses of Peckville”.
When we were younger, our parents took us every year to admire the Christmas lights. We have become 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 little blow mold of Santa Claus and his reindeer. We would pick up trash for the lights and then try to fix them so they could be added to our display. We spent days tinkering with the lights. We’ve all done our fair share to turn on and operate the lights and maintain them throughout the holiday season. To this day, we are a well-oiled machine!
The display slowly became what it is today. It got to a point where people started driving every year to see our light display. Then all of a sudden people decided to get out of their cars and walk around the property looking at the lights and the incredible views it offered. Every year it seems people come from further afield to see our exhibit.
Q: Where do you get all of these amazing blow molds and decorations?
A: Many of our blow molds come from flea markets. Some were also purchased over the internet or families donated 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 hang from utility poles all over the valley. Matt is thrilled with the new mechanical Poloron Snowman, which was recently donated. James’ favorite part of the screen is the ability to press a button and turn on all the lights on the screen!
Q: How long does it take you to set this up?
A: It takes us about 10 weeks to set up our display. First, we string the lights. Second, we put all the silhouettes on the outside of the buildings. Third, we put the peppermints and lights on the roof. Fourth, we hang all the municipal decorations. Fifth, we rent an elevator and hang all the lights that we cannot reach with ladders. Next, we prepare the property for the path and then install the forest. Then it’s time to call on the troops – friends and family – to help us move and sort the blow molds. It takes about a week to hammer 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 rechecking that they aren’t overloaded. We test the lights several times before the official turn on on Thanksgiving night. Many people contributed to our posting. The owners, Matt and Jeff, are the main organizers, and James is the electrician. Mindy manages the Facebook page.
Q: Have you had to make any changes this year due to the coronavirus pandemic?
AL We are making some changes to our display due to the pandemic. We widened the path a bit. There are two separate paths leading from Marion Street to the Alley, and they will be one-way. We’re asking people to wear their masks, space themselves out, limit their time, and keep moving so everyone can enjoy the lights. We really wanted to continue the tradition that has become a tradition for so many people in our region and even outside our region. We believe that our exhibition can continue to bring so much joy to those who visit, and it is really needed this year!
Q: Other than bringing joy to the neighborhood with your elaborate decorations, what are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
A: We really enjoy spending time with our friends and family who come together to make memories every year. Our display also allows us to connect with other people who have a real passion for decorating their homes.
Our community supports our efforts and backs us 100%. Blakely Borough even honored us with a proclamation that proclaims December 18, 2017 as Matt and Jeff Day in Blakely after participating in the Great Christmas Light Fight in 2017.
We also can’t forget all the delicious treats and treats we indulge in during the holiday season!