A little taste of the North Pole | PostIndependent.com

A little taste of the North Pole

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The home of Paul and Maura Carlson, 1006 Palmer Ave., is the talk of the town for its riotous display of holiday lights. And that’s just for Christmas.

In the new year, the Carlson home will be lit up in icy blue and white for January, two red hearts for February, and green lights and shamrocks for March.

The Carlsons are the winners of the final week in the Post Independent’s holiday lighting contest.

The Dec. 10 winners were Brian and Rebecca Fuller, 521 Honeysuckle Dr. in New Castle, and the Dec. 17 winners were Barbara and Joe Gugelman, 412 Alder Way, also in New Castle.

“The Post Independent will make a donation to the LIFT-UP food pantry in honor of these three families for sharing their festive holiday spirits,” said Stephanie Schafer, publisher of the Post Independent.

“And we thank all the families who entered our contest this year. We had a very fun time seeing all the different entries,” she added.

For the duration of the contest, many readers have said they expected the Carlsons to emerge as the winners. But Maura Carlson, a first-grade teacher at Glenwood Springs Elementary, waited until the final week to enter.

Paul Carlson is a GIS graphics technician for Holy Cross Energy, and is the lead organizer for Project Graduation for Glenwood Springs High School. All through November, he worked on the display.

“If I kept track of the time, I probably wouldn’t do it,” he said.

The goal is to have it all ready to light up once the sun goes down on Thanksgiving Day.

“I’ve kind of gone nuts with lights the last four years,” said Carlson. The couple have lived in the home 27 years, where they raised their daughter and son, both now grown.

The inspiration comes from Paul’s father, Larry Carlson of Canyon Creek, who puts up the big star that is visible in that neighborhood every holiday season.

By this year, the Carlson’s Palmer Avenue display contains an estimated 11,000 to 12,000 lights, plus all sorts of specialty decorations.

“I stopped keeping track at about 5,600,” Carlson said. Once he started using mesh, icicle and tube lights, it became a lot harder to count lights. But for sheer output, the Carlson home is the single brightest spot in Glenwood Springs.

He estimates that about 60 percent of the display is energy-efficient LED lights, and said the whole display adds about $100 to his electric bill during the holidays.

The show spills over to the houses on both sides, where the neighbors have simply told him, “Go for it,” when he explained his ideas for the extended decorations.

Well into December, Carlson is still tinkering with the display.

“I never am done,” he said. “I just put a shooting star above the garage door last week.”

The lights are turned on around 4:30 p.m., and Carlson said he’ll leave them on all night tonight and Christmas Eve, and then through the evening hours for another two weeks.

“Sharing the Christmas spirit is what I enjoy,” said Carlson.

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