The Sztenderowicz family, longtime residents of Cinnaminson, continue to expand their Barberry drive light show each holiday season.
They won our inaugural holiday decorating contest. We visited with the family earlier this week to talk about the display and all that goes into it each year.
Chris and Jacqui, longtime residents of the township, have four daughters who love the light display just as much as their parents.
Brooke (12), “Awesome Sauce” Ava (10), Mia (6) and Zoe (4) all enjoy the light display each year.
“That’s why daddy does it right, for you guys,” Jacqui said.
It all started in 2004 with the couple’s first home on Columbia Avenue and Chris has added something new to the display every year since then.
They moved to the house on Barberry in 2008.
“Every year we add something,” Chris said. “This year we added the Joy sign. The year before we added the trees. Then I add another colors of the LEDs. I just keep on adding. Whatever I find on sale.”
Chris already has plans for what is being added next year.
“Next year I want to do something with the chimney and the upper windows,” Chris said.
The Joy sign was graciously provided by friends of the family from their church.
“The Joy sign last year, somebody from our church had one,” Jacqui said. “She posted it on Facebook and I loved it. Her husband made it. He made one for us this year.”
When Chris first started his display in 2004 at the Columbia Avenue house the couple’s oldest daughter, Brooke, was still pretty young.
“Brooke was little and I was working a lot. One day I just said I’m going to do it. The old house I did just single white lights, but I outlined everything on the roof, windows, doors and gutters.”
Chris estimates that it took him more than 50 hours this year to decorate the house.
“I’d come up and work from 6 at night to midnight for a couple nights. The Sunday before we got everything done I worked from 11:30 after church to midnight.”
“I do the top roof first, which takes me all day. It’s a total of 18 hours just on the roof. That’s the easy part. It’s then fixing all the broken lights. I spent six or seven hours fixing strands that were bad.”
Chris starts the decorating process on Thanksgiving weekend and the full light display goes live the first week of December.
“My wife decorate the whole inside of the house. I do the outside. We have three trees in the house. We had a loft in the garage when we originally moved into this house. That was just our Christmas stuff. I had to put an addition on the loft in the garage to hold all our stuff.”
It takes a little over four hours to take all of the decorations down at the end of the holiday season.
“We cut it off around New Year’s,” Jacqui said. “We wait for the warmest day to take everything down. I help take it all down and put it back in the attack.”
It takes roughly 12 hours to wrap the lights up and pack them in boxes for offseason storage.
“I try to take it down in chunks,” Chris said. “The top roof, I will try to keep it all together. Sometimes it might be worth it just to take it all apart and put it back together next year.”
As for the decorations inside, Jacqui and the girls get done in one day.
“I don’t think people realize how long it really takes,” Chris said. “Coordinating where all the outlets go. All the power source has to go to one spot, which is the corner of the house. Getting all the lights to begin and end where they’re supposed to is tough.”
The house on Columbia Avenue never had music with the light display. The Barberry Drive display has music playing in conjunction with the lights.
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