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ACACIA ST. WINTER WONDERLAND

Their Manteca yard is a Christmas work in progress

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ACACIA ST. WINTER WONDERLAND

Don Woiwode and Melanie Obosky admire the Christmas winter wonderland they created in front of their Acacia Street home.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/THe Bulletin


POSTED December 21, 2012 12:44 a.m.

The yard is like many other homes in Manteca decked for the holidays. It’s just a little more ornate than most.

But one thing makes it really stand out.

“I made them all – the trees, the snowman, the angel,” said homeowner Don Woiwode with a big smile.

He stopped counting at three because there were just too many to mention. The real story, though, is not in the quantity of twinkling light bulbs or in the oversized colorful heart-shaped candy canes that line the length of the front lawn where the main part of the Christmas tableau is spread out. It’s how many of the main attractions came to be part of this winter wonderland near the corner of Center and Acacia streets just behind the Golden Valley Credit Union.

 Several of them were castaways that were rescued and refashioned into different holiday characters. Others were simply cut out of old wood panels that would have ended up in the garbage bin. The rigid ribbon that proudly decorates the neck of the impressive 10-foot-tall Snowman in one corner of the yard came from one such scrap wood in Woiwode’s garage.

The three-tiered Snowman, like many of the original creations that generously sprinkle the grassy front yard, comes complete with hundreds of colorful light bulbs that Woiwode wrapped around his towering art and craft Christmas project. Even Frosty’s top hat is covered with light bulbs that illuminate the popular Christmas character’s smiling face at night.

Santa’s sleigh and the galloping reindeer flying above the pair of green mailboxes in the front corner of the house were recycled from a large one-piece Christmas décor that was once a yuletide attraction in someone else’s home. That someone was the father of one of Woiwode’s friends named Joe. After the father died, Joe decided to throw away the large wood panel because he did not have any use for it. But Weiwode didn’t like to see the material go to waste.

“Let me see what I can do about it,” Woiwode told his friend.

Woiwode cut the wooden panel in half. With the first half, he cut out a one-dimensional Santa’s sleigh. Then with the other half, he formed a galloping reindeer. He drilled hundreds of holes on the sleigh and the reindeer. Then he put a white coating on the sleigh, and a brown coat of paint on the reindeer. After that, he painstakingly placed light bulbs on each of the holes he drilled, then gilded each item with tubes of light. On the sleigh, Weiwode placed a waving Santa, an lighted presents behind him.

The eye-catching life-sized angel with a trumpet right on the pitched roof above the double garage doors is another rescue story. Another friend decided the angel made out of rattan-like material had outgrown its usefulness and integrity and was about to throw it in the dump. But again, Woiwode offered to take it home, not knowing at first how he was going to make it décor-worthy. Finally, he decided to “dress up” the cherubim figure with tubes of light, fashioned a framework around it with spikes of white lights emanating from each pointy protrusion, and voila! The towering angel from the top of the house trumpets a holiday vision to all passers-by from above the eaves.

The lighted pathway in the middle of the yard which meanders its way to the ornately decorated Christmas tree surrounded by wrapped colorful presents is the contribution of Woiwode’s girlfriend Melanie Obosky. It was actually Obosky who got Woiwode started in decorating their yard for Christmas. She kept bugging him for a Snowman every year. Finally, 10 years ago, Woiwode caved in. And the decorations snowballed from there.

“We try something new every year,” Woiwode said of each year’s décor design.

“One year, I’m going to have Feliz Navidad,” he said, to go along with the Merry Christmas messages he already have in a few places around the yard, including the one in front of a White Christmas tree on the roof above the entrance to the house.

Considering the number of people who stop every night to admire the winter wonderland at Acacia Street, Woiwode said they have seen only very few occasions of vandalism such as something broken.

“But I think they’re not trying to do any vandalism; I think they just accidentally step on the things when they come up to the yard,” he said.

While the decoration looks like it’s complicated requiring a lot of time and effort to set up, Woiwode laughed and said, “All the stuff I make, it’s real easy. They all close up for easy storage.”

And the reason he does this every year? “Christmas is for everybody, right?” he simply said.

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