Jingle all the way to Queets Avenue

Those who wish for an extra dose of Christmas spirit this holiday season should head to Queets Avenue in Hoquiam, where they’ll find themselves walking by a winter wonderland.

Lined with the Polar Express train cars; a small population of reindeer; a polar bear behind a Polar Express sign; a rocking horse that “chases” a Santa dog riding a sleigh; and Christmas elves climbing up a ladder to deliver presents, Michele Crane’s front yard is brimming with festive decorations, which illuminate at night.

Although Crane lives alone with her 2-year-old basset hound Prudence, she said her display is for her neighbors to see. And then, Prudence brings out the welcome wagon with her friendly and energetic greeting complete with tail wags.

“We’re enjoying it,” she said. “Everybody comes to visit (Prudence) and she loves that.”

Crane recalled one time this season when an unusual visitor came to her house, she wondered aloud, and sarcastically, how far her lights could be seen.

“I think maybe you can see it from the International Space Station,” she said through a laugh. “One night, a helicopter hovered (here.) They were going and they stopped right here. I thought, ‘They’re probably looking at the lights.’”

She said the helicopters, which frequently fly over her neighborhood, never stop there. She said the helicopter stopped overhead right after she turned on her display lights.

“(But) they stopped, and I waved,” she said. “It was kind of fun.”

Crane said she doesn’t decorate indoors. She saves the fun for the neighborhood.

“I live by myself, so one person enjoying inside or everybody being able to enjoy outside, outside’s much better,” she said.

While this is Crane’s first year decorating in Hoquiam, she’s been decorating for about 15 years. She last lived for 14 years in Paoli, Indiana — a small town that’s about 60 miles northwest of Louisville, Kentucky — where she said her neighbors would stop and ask about her yuletide-filled yard.

“I lived off the main highway, so people would stop me in Walmart and say, ‘Are you decorating your house again?’” she said. “Everybody could see it coming in and out of town.”

Crane said then she thought wherever she lives, she’ll build her “Christmas Wonderland.”

“I plan to homestead here, and it will grow,” she said.

Crane said her neighbors on Queets Avenue are stepping up their game with their holiday decorations.

“We are coming alive here on Queets Avenue!” she said. “We’re going to be like Candy Cane Lane soon, where Queets is going to be the destination.”

Crane, who is in her second year of teaching special education classes at Lincoln Elementary School in Hoquiam, said some of her students have seen her spirit.

“Several of my students have stopped by (and said,) ‘I know that house,’” she said. “I’ve been showing them pictures as I go along.”

Crane’s decorations started with a pair of blue deer, which stand on the left side of her front yard.

“My blue deer are the very first ornaments for the lawn that I bought,” she said. “They light up and they’re blue at night. They’re really pretty.”

Crane said she liked how they looked, so that led to more decorations.

“I think I’ll buy more and more and more!” she said. “Hi, I’m Michele, I have a problem with … I’m kind of an outdoor Christmas-aholic person. But it’s a healthy obsession.”

Crane said when she brought her decorations from southern Indiana, she thought how Queets Avenue is tucked away.

“People on my street might be able to enjoy my Christmas lights, and so my dad came up from California and we spent a weekend putting them together,” she said.

Crane said her dad’s favorite decoration is the goose on her choo-choo train, which lay next to her entryway sidewalk in front of her elevated porch. She built the train cars with potted plant boxes, which have turquoise and red borders.

“It was really fun, he put all the candy canes in the tree for me,” she said about part of her dad’s contribution to the annual project. “I built my ladder that the elves sit on. I didn’t build it all this year, but I’ve built it as I’ve gone along. I built my choo-choo trains.”

Crane said she’d love to see the whole street lit up.

“That’d just be really heartwarming,” she said. “I think people are starting to do it.”

Crane has a healthy and positive attitude about what she’ll do if a Grinch comes to her house and takes her stuff.

“When I moved here people said ‘be careful, because people steal stuff,’” she said. “If they steal it and use it, they needed it more than I did. I’ll replace it. Maybe it glows somewhere else. And that’s OK.”

Crane has also made sure she keeps her wonderland merry and bright by balancing out how she powers her nightly display between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

“I also have electric cords out every window because I don’t want to blow my circuit breaker,” she said. “So there’s about eight different places in the house I plug in. And my power bill went up this month, but it’s OK.”

Crane said she misses Indiana, but Hoquiam is her home now.

Crane, who is currently renovating her house, plans to expand her festive display out to her backyard.

“Eventually, when I get my house finished, I’ll be able to do the back too, so my neighbors in the alley will be able to enjoy some Christmas Wonderland,” she said.

She already has a plan for next year. She couldn’t keep it a secret on Monday morning, Dec. 20.

“I’m going to build a rocket ship (display,)” she said. “Next year, my plans are to build a rocketship that will lift up off the ground a little bit with my lights coming out underneath it, and then settle back down.”

Crane said she also has paid for the pieces to a teeter-totter, which she will erect with penguin decorations atop of it. The ideas just keep sprouting for Crane, who called the display her tradition.

“Come Hell or high water, rain, snow, sleet, whatever, (it) doesn’t matter,” she said. “I”ll get out there and do it.”

The friendly polar bear greets Michele Crane's neighbors in the 2500 block of Queets Avenue, in Hoquiam, while Christmas elves climb up a candy-cane painted ladder to help Santa Claus deliver presents.
Michele Crane's "Christmas Wonderland" display fills her front yard, and her porch, which are in the 2500 block of Queets Avenue, in Hoquiam. Crane plans next year to expand her yuletide decorations to the back yard.
Christmas elves "climb" the ladder Michele Crane built for her "Christmas Wonderland" display, which decks Crane's front yard that sits in the 2500 block of Queets Avenue, in Hoquiam.