If you are going to Joseph Russo's house in the evening, he'll leave the lights on for you -- all 25,000 of them.
Each year, Mr. Russo lights up his Pasadena neighborhood with brightly colored Christmas decorations on his lawn, roof, trees and driveway.
From a wooden display of Santa's Workshop in which jolly old Saint Nicholas waves and an elf paints a toy, to the comparatively tame Nativity scene, Mr. Russo's decorations are the holiday hub of his neighborhood.
"You've got to get the Christmas spirit when you live across the street from him," says Janice Hastings, one of his neighbors. "That would even make Scrooge want to have Christmas."
As Christmas grows nearer, Mr. Russo wires up a large speaker outside and softly plays organ and chime renditions of Christmas carols.
"It's really beautiful," Ms. Hastings says. "We don't even attempt to decorate."
Mr. Russo says he is glad that so many people enjoy his single-handed effort to bring holiday cheer to his neighborhood and the house where he lives with his wife, Ruth, son Keith and daughter-in-law Lisa.
The Baltimore firefighter begins his task in October, putting up the lights and scenes that he estimates cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
Each year he spends about $500 more on decorations, some of which he displays that year and some of which he saves for the next year. He tries to add about 2,000 lights each year, and re-arrange the scenes.
L And if he gets anything to which he can add lights, he does.
"If I sit still long enough, I'd probably put lights on myself," he says.
This holiday tradition for the Russos began about 12 years ago, Mr. Russo says, when the family lived in Riviera Beach. While driving around to see other families' Christmas decorations, he admired the families that went all out to decorate their houses.
When he decided to make his home a noticeable one, he got hooked on lights.
"I used to go out in the woods and cut off branches and put them in the yard just to have something to stick lights on," he says.
Today, Mr. Russo buys artificial trees. The smallest ones -- 12 inches tall and wrapped in 35 lights each -- line his half-circle driveway and illuminate other areas of the yard.
The 4-foot-tall trees each carry 100 lights and the 6-foot-tall trees have 200. There are 2,000 to 3,000 lights on his roof, and countless more that cascade down the sides of his house and the two-car garage.
But Mr. Russo doesn't stop there. He adds the outlined ornaments -- "Season's Greetings," "Joy," "Noel," a snowman, a tree, a Christmas bulb -- and hooks all of these glittering jewels into more than 30 outdoor electrical sockets spread all over his yard, even in each fence post.
Mr. Russo estimates that he pays an extra $300 on his electric bill to keep the lights shining from dusk to midnight during December.
But he says the cost is secondary.
"Just to see the kids' eyes, it's right nice and then it's all worth it," he says.
When he takes the decorations down in the middle of January, he stores them in a 12-foot-by-16-foot shed that he built partially for that purpose. The decorations take up the entire second level of the shed.
Many motorists slow down or stop on Lake Shore Drive as they view the spectacle of lights. Some get out of their cars and tour the yard, and a few even leave cards or letters in Mr. Russo's lighted mailbox telling him how much they enjoy his decorations.
That just encourages Mr. Russo to decorate even more.