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Pinedas' is brightest house on the block
Frank Pineda's house is a beacon of light that has joyfully ushered in the Christmas season for many years.
Pineda's house, located in the 2500 block of 6th Avenue, has thousands upon thousands of lights and a lawn full of Christmas toys for everyone to enjoy. This huge monument to all things Christmas had humble beginnings and has grown ever larger and brighter over the years.
"It started 27 years ago when we just had one strand of lights and we started putting up more lights following the after-Christmas sales," Pineda said. "We keep getting stuff every year, and buying stuff after close-outs and down at The Salvation Army Store and Goodwill. I started making wooden elves for the yard, then I got crazy and put nine wooden reindeer and a sleigh (on the roof)."
Pineda said he didn't think Santa would have to be in the sleigh at the time, but now admits the absence of old Saint Nick would never be acceptable to the kids of Yuma.
"No, they expected Santa Claus, so then we had to incorporate a Santa Claus and we have been doing that for the last 18 years now."
Throughout the holiday season, the Pineda family passes out candy canes to kids and accepts letters to Santa. During the days leading up to Christmas, Santa himself will be at the Pineda house to greet children.
"He'll come out about the 15th of December or so just before the kids (of Yuma) get out of school. This way they can bring mom and dad out to see Santa Claus out here."
Pineda doesn't know exactly how many lights he has on display, but said they number in the thousands. "I just gave up on trying to count them."
One might think having so many lights on would drive up their electric bill, but Pineda said the key is to turn them all off at night before going to bed, instead of leaving them on to blink and blink.
Pineda said it takes a month to put up all his decorations, but he quickly adds that the project is never really finished.
"Once we get it out there, we either move it or add something to it and the people come back and say, 'Oh that's new.' It's always fix and repair daily. It takes constant care.
"I put the lights out along the house and everything works. A few days after that, I have five of them out. Every year it is a constant effort to keep the lights working. I tell people it's a labor of love because if it were a job and or work, I would cut it off."
This year Pineda and his wife, Debbie, did much of the labor on their own.
"Our son got married this year so it was just us two and it was hard," Debbie said. "We don't go anywhere and are out there working, and I mean working!
"We got behind this year because of all the new stuff, and then the weather, we spent two days out there cleaning up after the windstorm. There is always something..."
Pineda said his neighbors don't mind the constant traffic anymore.
"Now it's routine because they know the community looks forward to this every year. If you want to see a fiasco, come by Christmas Eve night here and it is a real circus because everybody comes by and brings something. It is just really the joy of Christmas spirit. It is my favorite night of the year."
Pineda wants drivers to be mindful of pedestrian traffic when they drive by his house. "Once the kids get out of the car, it is a mad dash. Their safety is my first concern."
Pineda said watching old folks as they come to look at his house is great fun.
"A lot of the winter visitors really get into the toys we have because it reminds them of their childhood. To stand there and listen to them talk, that's what I enjoy, too, because I like listening to their stories. You can watch their faces light up and you can see a lifetime of memories in their eyes."
Pineda said watching kids get excited about his front yard is one of the main reasons he continues to do this year after year.
"Oh, it makes me fell special because the kids have a certain look in their eyes that they want to yell and scream and nothing comes out because they just can't take it all in at one sitting. My reward is the excitement and the thrill I see in the little kids as they are hyperventilating and dragging their parents back and forth in front of my house."
Pineda said Christmas is a time for families and celebration.
"This brings families together because when the cars pull up I can see everybody having a great time and laughing. When they leave, they take that with them and to me that is the real joy of my whole Christmas season here."