Neighbors in Ferndale do battle with decoration Colored lights brighten homes

December 24, 1992|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

Two Ferndale neighbors are embroiled in a Christmas decorating competition that only the electric company can win.

Thanksgiving dinner was barely cleared from the table, when Kenny Ratajczak of 7020 Cresthaven Drive put a string of lights on his house and front shrubs.

Karl Smith, next door at 7018 Cresthaven, outlined his house in multicolored lights.

Mr. Ratajczak retaliated with a lighted Santa and reindeer.

Mr. Smith countered with an illuminated plastic snowman on his roof.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Ratajczak hung a garland around his doorway and put up electric chimes that play Christmas tunes.

Mr. Smith added more lights to the side of his house and decorated his door with red paper and a wreath.

Chuck "Baldy" More and Jacqui Pratt, who live at 7022 Cresthaven, added their own twist to the rivalry. They put lights on their roof spelling out the message: "See next door," and affixed a blinking arrow pointing to their neighbors' houses.

"We're having a lot of visitors," Mr. More said.

Mr. Ratajczak said he always loved decorating for the holidays. One Easter he put up a lighted Easter egg tree. At Halloween, he turned his front yard into a graveyard. But Christmas is his favorite holiday.

"I think I get it from my father. I remember being small and helping him put up the lights."

Mr. Ratajczak admits to egging on the competition with Mr. Smith. "He was kinda' humbug about it and I kept bugging him to do something."

Mr. Smith, a plumber who has lived in the neighborhood just more than a year, didn't have anything but a wreath for the door when the battle started.

He purchased the snowman and $75 worth of lights, which he strung on the roof and sides of his house.

Mr. Ratajczak spent more than $200 on decorations just this year.

Citing dwindling revenues, Mr. Ratajczak and Mr. Smith have called a truce for now.

But they're already plotting their strategies for next year, and both are planning to stock up on lights during the after-Christmas sales.

Mr. Ratajczak wants to increase the number of lighted reindeer in front and is mulling a way to hang lights from the side of his house in the shape of a Christmas tree.

For a final touch, he may equip his two dogs with battery-operated lighted collars.

Smith plans to add lights to his shed next year and put a couple of strands along the walkway.

Mr. More hasn't decided yet how he's going to top his "See next door" message.

"Depending on how the year goes, we might write, 'Hi, Mom. Send money.' "

His neighbors might need it when they get their electric bills.

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