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Ryan McCracken photo
Ryan McCracken photo
The Mudryk's home, located on Highway 881, just north of St. Paul, features over 400,000 Christmas lights in a variety of different displays, all of which have been handcrafted by Don Mudryk.
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Lighting up the Christmas season

Dec 03, 2013 11:30 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

You can’t drive north on Highway 881 from St. Paul this holiday season without rubbernecking at Don Mudryk’s incredible display of Christmas lights, and Don is encouraging anyone interested in having a look to be safe by pulling into his driveway and off the highway.

“Drive into the yard,” said Don, adding, the Town of St. Paul said they will be putting signs up in the near future. “I put up a welcome sign, but they still feel, ‘welcome to who? We’re not invited,’ but they can drive in and turn around in the yard, because it’s too dangerous on the highway.”

In total, 43,400 Christmas lights decorate the Mudryk’s home and yard, featuring a number of unique displays such as an airplane over the roof, Santa riding a motorcycle, and three angels featuring the faces of the couple’s three youngest granddaughters, Jordan, Samantha and Annie.

“The hardest? Santa Claus on a motorcycle, because there’s 1,650 lights on Santa on a motorbike,” said Don, adding he models the display on plywood then drills individual holes for each light. “I have to drill (all the holes) twice, not once but twice. I have to drill the holes first, and then I have to ream the holes to make sure that the light just fits in there.”

Don said his favourite piece on display is definitely the airplane over his roof, which took 2,170 lights to complete.

“Because Santa comes by plane,” said Don’s wife Paulette, with a smile.

What’s more, Don has handcrafted every piece displayed in his yard, after picking up the time-consuming hobby following his retirement last year.

“This is something that you can’t go to a store and buy. It’s one of a kind, that’s for sure,” he said, adding, it consumes a large portion of his free time, but it’s something he loves to do.

“I went to the Co-op (on Thursday) and that’s all they’re talking about, and (a friend) laughed and said, ‘You know, Don, there’s everything in your yard, it’s unbelievable, but I didn’t see Santa on a horse.’ So what am I doing tomorrow? Santa on a horse,” he said, adding that he hopes to have it done and in place within two weeks.

“Santa on a horse will be about 3,000 lights.”

Paulette said the idea started when Don crafted a display for her mother’s yard, and it took off from there.

“He built a little nativity scene for my mom, for her Virgin Mary, and that’s how it all started. He said, ‘Oh I could build a bigger one for here,’ and then it went on and on and on,” said Paulette.

As for the electrical bill, Don said that running the 43,400 lights in his yard each night only adds $50 to 75 dollars to his monthly expenses.

“Everything is LED and everything runs off one breaker,” he said. “My bill for running it for a month at Christmas, I bet it will cost about $70 . . . you’ve got to remember too that at Christmas you do a lot of cooking.”

Installing the 43,400 lights in his yard took Don 285 hours of work, 30 sheets of three-quarter inch plywood, 2,000 feet of extension cords and $6,200 of lights. Most were purchased on sale.

“I wait until they go on sale, and then I buy them for next year,” said Don. “Now I’m going to start building them for my kids.”

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