A Holiday Gift to Scripps Ranch

Go down Sunset Ridge Drive as the sun sets, and you’ll see a beacon of light glowing from a spectacularly decorated house. With at least 70 decorations and 40 extension cords powering more than 8,000 lights, Clark W. Griswold—from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation—has nothing on Bill and Jany Staley. Married 41 years and Scripps Ranch residents for 36, the Staley home has become a show-stopper, or a “slow-stopper,” for anyone driving on their street. “We like to think of it as a ‘traffic calmer’ during the busy holiday rush,” says Jany.

Winter Wonderland Tradition

The Staleys take true pride adorning their home and yards in whimsical ornaments and twinkling lights. They are constantly on the lookout for new decorations, adding five to six each year as they retire a few older ones. “We were sad to see our very first, and favorite decoration, the ferris wheel, take its last turn a few years ago,” says Jany. Bill credits a friend for the ferris wheel’s replacement: “‘Santa’s Outhouse’ quickly became the new favorite,” smirks Bill. Jany acknowledges it took some time but “Santa’s Outhouse” has grown on her.

The “out with the old, in with new” rule allows the Staleys to store their decorations at home. “We say if ever we have to rent a storage locker, we’ve gone too far,” says Jany. They are familiar with the timing of the latest and greatest from their favorite catalog and home improvement store. “Everything hits around the second week of October. This year we saw a decoration and didn’t order it fast enough, so we missed out,” admits Jany.

The physical preparation begins Nov. 1 when Bill turns their backyard (at right) into a winter wonderland. Since the roof is Jany’s least favorite part to decorate, she finishes that portion first. Bill gives her plenty of support from the ladder’s bottom rung since they both accept that he is afraid of heights.

They spend countless hours hanging, stapling, and zip-tying decorations around their yard and house to be done by Thanksgiving. “The rule used to be the lights couldn’t go on until after Thanksgiving Day, but one time Bill turned them on after our Thanksgiving meal and a new tradition began,” laughs Jany.

Joy to the Neighbors

What began as a small hobby has turned into an event the entire neighborhood anticipates. This is the 11th year the Staleys have decorated their house “in a big way.” Although they appreciate the drivers who slow down or stop to admire their work of art, it is the neighbors or new faces walking by who really make Bill smile. He often sits outside to answer questions and chat with those who want to know more about their holiday endeavor.

He first realized what a gift the tradition was when they were re-landscaping their front yard a few years ago. “It was only June or July, but several people stopped to ask if we were still going to decorate for the holidays since the grass was being replaced by low-maintenance landscape. I got a kick out of that,” chuckles Bill.

Many friends and fans are aware of the annual new decorations, so Jany and Bill make a game out of who can find the additions. “I never like to place decorations in the same spot every year, so I’m constantly moving the old ones around while finding places for new ones,” says Jany. Bill is then tasked with re-working his outlet/extension cord blueprint to accommodate the changes. “It takes time, but I keep it on a spreadsheet, so it’s a bit easier to handle her changes, “ shares Bill.

Bill and Jany both joke about the trials and tribulations of a testing task for husband and wife. “We definitely have had our ‘controversial’ moments, but we work through it for the same goal—to see the smiles and awe-struck eyes of those who stop to admire the display,” says Jany.

Holiday Cheer All Year

All the long hours of hard work are worth it for Bill and Jany, but the result from their decorating tradition extends far past the holidays. “We have received cards from strangers thanking us,” says Jany. “And neighbors share tips, throughout the year, of how to hang certain ornaments, or something new they’ve seen,” adds Bill.

They are credited with getting their neighbors into the holiday spirit. “Several houses right around us now decorate as much as we do. It’s a great community builder,” says Jany. The Staleys encourage more homes and neighborhoods to add a bit of sparkle to the season. “It would be wonderful for Scripps Ranch to be one of the main communities people visit to take time to appreciate the simpler times and re-focus on family and friends.”

Jen Marchesini