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March 25, 2019

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Boulder City tradition gets ready for national spotlight

Home to appear on ‘The Great Christmas Light Fight’ on ABC

Steve Marcus

Dyanah Musgrave and Dale Ryan have decorated their home in Boulder City for the past 13 years. The home will be featured in “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC on Monday, Dec 19.

"Great Christmas Light Fight"

A view of Dale Ryan and Dyanah Musgrave's home in Boulder City Sunday Dec. 18, 2016. The home will be featured in The Great Christmas Light Fight Launch slideshow »

Snowmen wield guitars, Dumbo rides a train and Sleeping Beauty dwarfs go round and round on Ferris wheel seats as more than 100,000 Christmas lights illuminate Boulder City's Fifth Street.

Only some of the red, blue, green and purple LED and incandescent lights flicker. When they do, it's strategic: Santa Claus, who is feet up, falls into a fictitious chimney and a gingerbread man jumps on the roof.

The one-story house where the meticulous creations are exhibited, 1525 Fifth St., belongs to married couple Dale Ryan and Dyanah Musgrave. They've welcomed the community to their front yard the past 13 winters.

And when word of the spectacle reached ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight," the reality TV show came calling. An episode featuring the Boulder City house will air at 8 p.m. Monday on KTNV Channel 13.

Ryan, 65, and Musgrave, 58, bought the house, which sits on a third of an acre on the city's traditional parade route, about 13 years ago.

"We fell in love with this town," said Musgrave, who dressed as Mrs. Claus and handed out candy canes to children in the front yard Saturday night.

But owning a house on the traditional route came with, well, tradition. The city encouraged the couple to decorate their home with a Christmas theme. Ryan, Musgrave noted, is "the biggest kid you'll ever want to meet" and took on the time-consuming challenge.

The process typically begins in October. For about six weeks, Ryan, who works alone, takes the decorations out and then repairs, re-assembles, wires and installs them. Ten- and 14-hour work days during the process are routine.

After Jan. 1, when everything is put away, Ryan creates at least one new display the couple unveils the following season. He says he's spent "thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars" on lights and décor through the years.

How much does the electricity bill increase over the holiday months?

"Do you hear that hum?" he joked. "That's the meter spinning in the back."

The time it takes is worth every minute, he said.

"I love it. I love Christmas lights. I love Christmas," he said. "But more than anything, I love the look on the children's faces. For me that's what It's really all about."

The lights stay on from 5 to 9 p.m. and draw 500-700 visitors every day. On Saturday, a steady flow of families walked through the yard, admiring and taking pictures with Ryan's work as Christmas music played in the background.

Children rushed to greet Santa as soon as he appeared. Kids talked with him, uttering their gift wishes. Santa patted a toddler resting on a woman's arms.

One boy approached Musgrave with a sound-fixture suggestion for one of the displays.

"We're going to have you come back next year and be a consultant for us because you have some good ideas," Musgrave said in a chipper tone.

A woman shared a few words of gratitude to Musgrave for welcoming the community to their house.

The couple was excited about the national TV exposure Boulder City is about to get because of the ABC show. Only 24 out of 5,000 entries were accepted, and only one of them will win.

"A community comes together for this," Ryan said. Management at shops, restaurants and bars are planning to host watch parties. "You couldn't ask for a better place to be."

Boulder City resident Elizabeth Bishton said she brings her children to the house every Christmas season. "They look forward to it every year," she said. "We've been here lots of times," a young boy interjected.

The house, Bishton said, has become a staple in the community.

"You can ask anybody about the 'Christmas House,'" she said, "and they know what it is."

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