Lighting up the night: Grand Lake home a winner with holiday light-lookers |

Lighting up the night: Grand Lake home a winner with holiday light-lookers

Tonya Bina
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
Sky-Hi Daily News | Sky-Hi Daily News

The home sings and flashes in the evening snowfall.

“I was Clark Griswold in another life,” said Steve Brenner, outdoor-holiday-decorator extraordinaire.

The Danny Davito character Buddy Hall also comes to mind.

Nearly 23,000 individual bulbs in the form of a train, stars, candy canes, trees and holiday greetings suck 80 amps of power out of a total 200 fed to the home.

“A couple of years before they put in that extra box, we actually couldn’t turn on the TV while we had the lights on,” said Steve’s wife Sharon Brenner, referring to the added breaker box attached to the home.

“Yeah, we had to be careful not use the microwave,” Steve said. “We were overloading circuits instantly.”

Four-years running, the Brenners have been contenders in the annual Mountain Parks Electric holiday lighting contest. From LED trees to incandescent reindeer, to a playhouse Santa-land “depot” and lighted choo choo, the Brenners are usually shoe-ins to win.

Trying to outdo last year’s display, Steve bought an electronic music box this year that plays at least 20 holiday tunes synchronized to 13 lighted Christmas trees out front.

A glowing penguin conducts the “orchestra.”

When it gets too cold, the music tends to play really fast, until Steve unplugs and re-plugs.

“Thought the music might bother the neighbor in front, but he said it doesn’t bother him,” Steve said.

This newfound wonderland technology has thrust the Brenners into a whole new sphere of decorating.

They now find themselves scrutinizing the old and faded stuff.

“See those snowmen,” Steve points to two snowmen flanking a large star-cross on the curbside of the house.

“They just don’t cut it anymore. We need something bigger and better now.”

When Steve first brought home the music-choreographed light show, he tested it.

All 13 yard ornaments flashed and caroled inside the couple’s home.

“Our living room was like a big ‘ole disco,” he said.

His original thought was to attach the disco to motion sensors, but for some reason it didn’t work.

Well, he’ll have it going next year, he promised.

That, and you can bet on more lights.

“Next year we’re going to have to replace all of the icicles up high because they’re fading,” Steve said. “I like bright.” Steve tried to repaint some light bulbs once, but that didn’t work too well, he said.

A jumbo pile of expired strands takes up space in the living room.

No matter. The Brenners are experts at finding the best post-holiday light sales.

And now that beetle-kill trees have been cleared off the property, there is even more reason to add, Steve said.

“We went to Target once and had three buggies full of Christmas lights,” Sharon said.

“Those lighted reindeer, three bucks,” said Steve with a you-wouldn’t-believe-it, bargain-happy face. “Well, give me six of those.”

All the Brenner holiday lights are connected to timers and turn on like clockwork each evening.

The house stands as a shining beacon of Christmas cheer off Ridge Road.

Drive-by oglers usually idle for more than awhile.

That alone makes paying double their electric bill worth it, the Brenners said.

“The neighbor that lives right behind us, she used to decorate,” Sharon said, pointing to a dark shadow of a home.

“But now she says she’s just going to look at ours.”

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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