Santa Claus rides tractor, flies in airplane at colorful home
It started simply enough. When Silver Spring couple Frank and Iasone Montillo had their son four years ago, they put up a few festive inflatable Christmas lawn ornaments.
Now with their son in pre-school, their lawn is an intricate tangle of wires. A maze of giant inflatable Santas, reindeer, Mickey Mouse, Snoopy and even a Grinch moving in and out of an oversized chimney overtake their lawn and roof.
Traffic stops in front of their house, 12710 Laurie Drive in Silver Spring, as drivers marvel at the flashing lights, whirring air pumps and moving decorations of their annual holiday tradition.
"We started with just one or two, and slowly it turned into this," laughed Iasone Montillo, gesturing at her lawn.
As she talks, a couple approaches their lawn from the street. Edward and Jessica Manchego, a Wheaton couple, drove by the house earlier that day. It was such a sight they decided to come back at night to take a closer look and snap some photographs.
"This is the first house I've seen like this," Edward Manchego said.
The Montillos said it takes a full day to get all the decorations up, longer if they don't have help or break up their work. As for the cost, they don't want to guess; adding it all up could be depressing, they said.
They do try to offset their costs by hitting after-Christmas sales on decorations and using environmentally friendly LED lights that don't use up a lot of electricity.
"It's not as bad as you'd think; we go green," Iasone Montillo said.
The Montillos say their copious decorating brings the community together. When people stop by, they get to know their neighbors and put a smile on their faces, Iasone Montillo said.
One man stopped by every night last year on his way home from picking up his son from day care. It's instances like this that keep the Montillos ever-expanding their collection of holiday décor, she said.
"We do it for ourselves, but we also do it for our community," she said. The lines along the road, and sometimes even to pull into their driveway, are worth it, she added.
But one night last year, their faith in the community was tested when a group of teenagers unplugged all their ornaments, stole the power cords and pushed all their ornaments against the garage. For some, it would have been enough to give up on decorating. But the Montillos said they had everything back up within an hour thanks to the help of some friends.
The teens' act of Christmas scroogery was caught on their surveillance cameras and was broadcast during the halftime show of an NFL football game, Iasone Montillo said. She put the video up on Youtube to further humiliate the thieves, she said.
"My big joke was that we're getting the band back together," she said. "We're starting back up."
Next year, she said you can expect to see the decorations get bigger and better. This year's addition of Santa in an airplane on the roof, Santa on a tractora tribute to their neighbor, always seen on his riding lawnmowerand a moving carousel of reindeer, will be old news come clearance sales at the end of this year, they said.
"With everything going on, at least it makes people smile," Iasone Montillo said. "That's why we do it."