DALTON -- You know you’ve entered Dalton during the holidays when you pass the two houses off Library Square and Main Street.
It’s become a staple of the town’s Christmas cheer over the years: Giant Christmas inflatable lawn ornaments of snowmen and Santa Claus seem to wave to passersby along Dalton Avenue in the chilly wind while bright lights illuminate the grounds. The Christmas cheer is infectious.
"People will send us cards thanking us," said Bob Bishop Jr., who lives at and decorates 25 Library Square for every holiday -- especially Christmas. "Lots of people will come, bring their kids and grandkids, and take their pictures. They just have to be careful not to trip over the cords."
Bishop usually spends anywhere from $300 to $400 a year on inflatable lawn ornaments, he said. This year, he said he upped the ante to about $700 -- and it shows: Inflatable Mickey and Minnie Mouse ornaments are atop a train; Santa Claus is a on helicopter with rotating propellers; Thomas the Tank Engine sits stationary and an archway is made from a large inflatable Santa Claus and a large snowman holding equally large candy canes.
This year’s 14 Christmas inflatables make up the Bishop’s 40 total for holidays ranging from Halloween to Easter. The oldest one is a 25-year-old inflatable bear.
"Each one has a story," Bishop said. "My wife loves snow globes. My grandkids love trains. Different events come along to get new ones.
The Bishops work entirely separate from their neighbors, the Walshes. They’re house is reversed, focusing more on all-white lights instead of the inflatables -- light up reindeer and Santa, plus an inflatable one in a hot-air balloon, icicle lights and a light-up candle to go in each of the house’s 29 windows.
"It’ll be another week before we get it all set up," resident Mary Walsh said while some of her family members helped her set up the yard.
She traversed the "land mine" of hundreds of feet of cord snaking through her fenced-in yard to get to the "most important" piece -- the nativity scene.
All that was missing was baby Jesus in the manger.
"He doesn’t go out until Christmas Eve," Walsh said.
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