Home outshines neighbors
Jesse Hiestand, Daily News
Gayla Park spends six weeks
each year decorating her home
and front yard in the 23300
block of West Hills' Schoolcraft
|..WEST HILLS -- Gayla
Park's front yard
..phantasmagoria of candy
..sleds, Santa's home and more
..lights strung along eaves
and into trees
..regularly prompts passing
motorists to stop
.."Somebody came by the
other night and
..yelled: `Turn on the
lights!' " Park recalled.
And to think it
started 38 years ago at the Park residence with a
single strand of lights that now stands as a
luminous landmark in the 23300 block of
Schoolcraft Street, prompting next-door neighbors
to erect their own displays.
Like Jim Sieker.
that since we had Disneyland across the street we
should do something or they would think we were
the town Scrooge," said Sieker, 41, who this
year put a plywood cutout of the Nativity scene
in his front yard and may add more outdoor lights
Many of the houses
near Park's have at least one strand of lights on
during the evenings. But some homes are as dark
as a lump of coal.
One woman said she
preferred to keep her lights and decorations
Others opted to
keep their lights turned off when they were away
For Andy Denes,
51, it was an easy call: "We're
Donovan wandered over to take a closer look at
Park's display and noted the contagious effect it
and other large-scale displays have on other
that more people have decorations up this year
than in a while," said Donovan, 51.
"Despite what's going on in the world,
everyone seems more optimistic."
For Sieker's part,
he insisted that jealousy of the Parks' display
did not necessarily motivate his entrance in the
Christmas light derby, only a desire to remind
people of the holiday's religious significance.
not. But the Parks' display nevertheless inspires
awe from the neighborhood.
neighbor Michael Jaynes stood on his lawn one
recent frosty evening, marveling at the effect
Park's home has had on the street where he has
lived for 20 years.
"We all want
to do a little better," said Jaynes, a movie
industry truck driver whose goal was to simply
replace the dead bulbs on the lights lining his
roof. "It's not a competition thing. It's
let's lift us all up by adding a little bit
personally joining in, Denes said he still
enjoyed the "pretty colored lights" on
Stan and Shirley
Larson, residents for 35 years, say they've never
strayed from putting up a simple strand of
outdoor bulbs and have no desire to match Park's
"To me, it's
too much," said Shirley Larson.
"I'd never go
through all the stuff they go through,"
added her husband. "It's wonderful, but it
takes too long."
Park's labor of
yuletide cheer takes six weeks to complete and
requires the help of her 63-year-old husband and
two workers. The artificial snow went in
Wednesday, as it always does two days before
Park, 61, said she
typically finishes the decorations that consume
both the inside and outside of her house at 3
a.m. Christmas Day, two hours before the arrival
of her 10 grandchildren.
She shrugs off the
added cost to her electric bill as "no more
than the air conditioner in the summer."
Mike Rozman, 30,
who moved to Schoolcraft Street two years ago
with his wife, Karen, said they've been
increasing the scope of their outdoor light show
each year within the constraints of their budget
"I would put
up as much as I could, but I just don't have that
kind of time," said Rozman, who this year
added trendy icicle lights to his roof. "I
pretty much admire (Park's display) -- the
creativity, the artistic touch. I don't think
people would put as much effort (into decorations
on this street) without it. It has a sort of