Christmas on display: Gypsum residents light up the town with holiday cheer | VailDaily.com

Christmas on display: Gypsum residents light up the town with holiday cheer

GYPSUM — It takes Gerry and Joann Olesen two full days to string up all their holiday lights and set up their outdoor Christmas decorations.

But once they are done, it is hard to miss seeing the fruits of that labor.

Their home, located along Valley Road right across the street from the Gypsum Recreation Center, is a hand-crafted piece of holiday cheer. There are Christmas trees build from automotive springs and rebar. Gerry free-hand drew a team of reindeer that he then sawed from a piece of particle board.

"I am not an artist, but I do think that is pretty cool," said Gerry.

Santa's sleigh has the names of all the Olesen grandchildren written on a delivery list and the snowman family out front represents the couple and their daughters.

"This year we went with mostly LED lights," noted Gerry. "We went to Home Depot after Christmas when they had them at 75 percent off and we still spent hundreds of dollars."

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The display obviously takes an intensive effort to erect and represents a sizeable financial commitment. So, why do the Olesens do it every year?

"We do it for the kids," said Gerry. "We do for all the people who stop their cars and stare at the house when they drive by."

The couple's grandchildren are among the biggest fans of the holiday display, but they are not alone. The Olesen house is a perennial contender for the Gypsum Holiday Lighting Contest, now under way through Christmas Eve.

Extended judging

Originally, the contest winners were slated to be announced at the community's Home for the Holidays celebration held earlier this month.

"We had several folks mention to us that they were just getting their lights done and it took several weekend to do so, so we are bumping it longer," said Gypsum Special Projects Coordinator Krista DeHerrera.

The contest parameters are simple. The general public will be the judges.

"As people drive around and see cool displays, we ask them to snap a photo and put it on our Facebook pages. The photo with the most 'likes' wins," said DeHerrera.

The contest is sponsored by Holy Cross Energy, and the company is giving a $175 electricity credit to the winning homeowner. The runner-up display will earn its owner a $100 credit, and the finalists from seven different neighborhoods in town will each receive a $75 credit.

Additionally, Holy Cross is teaming with the town to encourage residents to get rid of their old incandescent holiday lights. The Gypsum Community Development Department is a recycling collection center for old lights, and anyone who brings in strands will receive a $2 credit on his or her electric bill. The recycling program will continue through Jan. 15.

It takes a trip around town to truly appreciate the various Gypsum holiday display. As Olesen notes, photos really don't do his display justice. Besides, in the end the contest is nice, but the reason why Gypsum residents go to the trouble of lighting up their homes is so their friends and neighbors can enjoy the show.

"We don't do it for the money. We just like everyone telling us how cool it is," said Olesen.