UNION, NJ – It all starts in early October when Noemi Duran begins the tedious task of checking hundreds of strands of Christmas lights and replacing bulbs where necessary, sometimes staying up all night to do so. Then in mid-November, she and husband Luis Manriquez begin to put up the lights, place the lawn decorations and inflatables, and set up Santa and Mrs. Claus, welcoming visitors to their Braun Terrace home. It takes a good two weeks of working long hours to get everything ready.
Duran and Manriquez have been decking out their house and lawn with hundreds of Christmas decorations for 15 years, since first moving to Union. The lights, decorations and music are turned on each evening beginning December 1, throughout the holidays, ending January 6.
People from all over come by all evening to view the lights and decorations, many times getting out of their cars to walk around the corner-house property to see them all, from reindeer and Elmo, to a ferris wheel and snowmen, and to hear the holiday music.
Manriquez said a child recently asked, “are you rich?” He laughed and said, “no, your smile is my pay”. He said people have asked why he doesn’t request donations to help offset his large electricity bill and other expenses. He said, “it’s not about money. It’s about bringing back Christmas magic and seeing the joy in a child’s eye.”
And then it all starts to come down after January 6, organized back into their correct containers, and stored in the basement, garage, backyard and attic. Duran and Manriquez then begin searching for sales and specials on Christmas decorations for next year.