Local holiday decorators explain their labor of love

After all the strategic mapping — all the blown fuses — you might get nothing more than a congratulatory pat on the back.

Luckily, most master holiday decorators aren’t in it for the fame.

“If you’re doing this for anything other than a labor of love, you’re going to be sorely disappointed,” said Brad Moore, 53, of Columbus.

This year, Moore’s home on Cheyenne Road will again feature an elaborate outdoor light display that he says requires 60 hours of setup time — not to mention the 20 hours he spends testing his lights.

The Moores are among the many local families who have been featured in a past installment of the Ledger-Enquirer’s annual list of noteworthy light displays. The distinction comes with no tangible prize, just a good chance more fans will “ooh” and “aah” at your hard work.

And for people who love to decorate, that’s enough. The Moore family (Columbus)

Brad Moore thrives on hearing one word: Wow.

“That makes your day, knowing that somebody else is getting as much joy out of it as you are,” he said. “I enjoy doing it. One of these days, with my arthritis and bad back, I may not be able to do everything that I want to do.”

He’s created light displays for about 15 years, occasionally taking advice from wife Vickie and 22-year-old daughter Amanda.

Moore’s scene consists of Santa’s workshop, Disney characters, a nativity scene and more.

He works from the top down during setup.

He said the display is worth between $6,000 and $7,000.

Yet he didn’t pay that much, since he bought many items on clearance.

Among a decorator’s worst fears? Predictability. “You don’t want to do the same thing over and over again,” Moore said.

But if a design works, remember it. “When you get something and you like the way it looks, take pictures,” Moore advises.

The Scroggins family (Smiths Station, Ala.)

Soon, Mike Scroggins’ display might need its own zip code.

“It’s just gotten kind of out of hand now,” he said.

That doesn’t mean he’s scaling back.

This year, his family’s light display will have elements like a Santa rock band and a palm tree scene.

“I like things simple and clean,” Scroggins said. “I try to create scenes with my lights.”

He tackles the process with input from wife Lori and his children, 3-year-old Colin and Hannah, 1 ½. Colin might be a light aficionado in training, as his father calls him “my little elf.”

Scroggins’ work with light displays has taught him the potential pitfalls of a male tendency to disregard directions, namely those on a fuse box.

As much as you’d like to do things on your own, you might be in for a rude awakening, Scroggins said — especially when you encounter electrical problems that come with something as simple as turning a crock pot on.

“That always dampens the Christmas mood,” he said.

The Sulahian family (Phenix City)

The Sulahians have a good stock of holiday knickknacks, thanks to the year Jamie Sulahian maxed out her credit card buying supplies.

“I love decorating for Christmas,” she said. “I see it as a family thing.”

She and her husband, 27-year-old Aaron, take pride in decorating the inside and outside of their home. They use traditional decorations like lights and garland, as well as items that have been passed down to their family.

It’s a time to emphasize the value of togetherness to their children — 3-yearold Kylie and Noah, 1 ½.

“It’s not always about receiving presents,” Jamie Sulahian, 26, said.

She learned the lesson in Christmas2007,whenAaron was stationed with the military in Afghanistan. She put up the decorations alone that year, largely to keep herself busy. The holiday season makes the family cherish each other’s company — so much that Jamie Sulahian gets a little sad when it’s time to pack up the decorations. Aaron Sulahian experiences some heartache, too.

“It’s sad for me when I see the electric bill,” he said.