Christmas light displays are Detroit Lakes couple's gift to the community

The Dutton family has been inviting the Detroit Lakes community to come and enjoy their holiday light displays for more than 20 years now. This year's displays at their Brookridge Drive home will include a mixture of new, old and restored scenes.

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The front lawn of Wade and Holly Dutton's home in Detriot Lakes is festooned with Christmas light displays of every size and description. (Submitted photo)

Going out to view all the Christmas light displays around the area has always been a favorite pastime for Holly Dutton.

"As soon as I see one, I say, 'Oh, we have to stop,'" says the longtime Detroit Lakes resident.

She and her husband, Wade, spend several weeks working on the lighted holiday scenes that decorate their own front lawn on Brookridge Drive.

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Elves feature prominently in the Christmas light displays decorating the front lawn of Wade and Holly Dutton's home in Detroit Lakes. Holly says she has collected elves for more than 30 years. (Submitted photo)


"We started working on it the weekend after Thanksgiving," Dutton said Thursday, adding that they still had a few finishing touches to put up yet this week.

This year's work involved restoration of the paint job on some of the older decorations, such as Santa's holiday train and North Pole elves.

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Wade Dutton works on adding lights to the Christmas train — freshly repainted by his wife, Holly — to be added to the holiday light displays decorating their front lawn. (Submitted photo)

"When my daughter came home for Thanksgiving, I put her to work," Holly joked, noting that Kelsey worked on restoring the elves, while she worked on the train, which hadn't had a new paint job since she first installed it in 2003.

Holly and Wade divide up the work on their holiday lawn decorations, with Holly doing any repainting and repair needed on the various scene pieces, while Wade is the "lighting technician" — i.e., makes sure all the light strands work, and that there are enough extension cords to handle the extra voltage.

"I can't imagine how many extension cords we have out there," she said, adding with a laugh, "We get a sizable electric bill for December, but it's totally worth it. It's fun."


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Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" characters are some of the more recognizable figures featured in the holiday displays on Wade and Holly Dutton's front lawn. (Submitted photo)

Holly has tried to add something new to each year's display, so guests will always have something to catch their eye.

"I like variety, and diversity," she said, though there is a heavily Scandinavian theme to many of the scenes. "I'm very interested in Scandinavian history, and folklore, and traditions."

Elves and gnomes are also featured prominently, she added.

"This all started because I love elves," she said. "I've collected them for years."

In fact, Holly says, she enjoys elves so much that visitors can find dozens of them of them tucked into the various displays on the Duttons' lawn, from the Elf on the Shelf — "I have to keep up with the trends," she laughed — to Norwegian nisse.

Though many of the displays are readily visible from the street, Holly says that some of them can be found closer to the house, and guests are more than welcome to come up their driveway to view them — and in some cases, listen as well.

The decorations on either side of the Duttons' driveway are divided according to two distinct themes: One is Santa, his elves and other helpers, while the other side is all about music.


Some of the displays, such as the Christmas carolers, actually have music playing in the background, though Holly said they have to bring the music player inside the house each night and put it back out again the next day, due to the cold weather.

"Everything is synchronized (the lights and music)," she added. "It's a fun show."

For those who are unable to get over to the Duttons' home this week, Holly says that they will remain on display through the first week of January, which is the end of the traditional "12 days of Christmas."

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Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" characters are some of the more recognizable figures featured in the holiday displays on Wade and Holly Dutton's front lawn. (Submitted photo)

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