Kenny Pritchard doesn’t take Brenda MacLachlan out to dinner. He buys her balloons instead. Well, more inflatables than balloons and it’s a hobby the pair shares with friends and neighbors and anyone wanting an extra jolt of holiday spirit.
Pritchard lives on west Nelson Street in Edgerton. Everyone knows where he lives. Pritchards’ lives in the house surrounded by more than 125 inflatable Christmas decorations and 150 life-size figurines. Visitors can wander through the maze of decorations between the hours of 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. through the first week of January.
“It’s called ‘Candy Cane Lane,’” Pritchard said.
The yard art is set up as sort of an inflatable Christmas amusement park.
“II just put it together in some sort of an organized fashion. I just want people to enjoy it,” he said.
Visitors walk down a lane lined with candy canes. The lane takes them to the backyard to a section Pritchard calls Santa’s Toys.
“It’s Santa on a truck, a helicopter, a boat, any kind of thing Santa is on it,” Pritchard said.
About mid-yard, guests are treated to Santa’s Zoo. The zoo is filled with animal figurines. There’s an area Pritchard calls ‘Fair Time’, a Disney area with Christmas Mickey Mouse and Minnie, and another one, ‘Santa’s Barn’ houses reindeer.
“And then around the driveway, there are snow globes and then ‘Summertime with Santa,’” Pritchard said. “Santa’s fishing and barbecuing.”
Pritchard and MacLachlan started their inflatable collection seven years ago, after meeting at a square dance.
MacLachlan had one Halloween inflatable — a pumpkin and three ghosts.
“From that point on, we bought several,” Pritchard said. “It’s something we both enjoy doing — bringing smiles to people’s faces.”
They typically order one or two inflatables each month. The cost adds up, but Pritchard doesn’t keep a mental tally of what they’ve spent.
“Brenda and I don’t do a lot of other things that other people do,” Pritchard said. “I don’t take Brenda out to eat. I buy her balloons.”
They’ve accumulated quite a collection and decorate the yard during several holidays.
There are a few inflatables for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, elections, Labor Day, graduation and the Fourth of July. There are larger displays for Halloween and Easter, and a display for Thanksgiving.
Pritchard puts out about 20 for Easter and the Fourth of July. Other displays are smaller. There’s one inflatable to mark Father’s Day and another to mark Mother’s Day. Christmas is the largest by far.
The yard decorations are attached to nine electrical breakers with 15 amps apiece. Each inflatable has an extension cord and a timer.
During most of the day, the inflatables lie flat in Pritchard’s yard until 3 p.m. when the timers are set to begin inflating.
“Some people like to watch that,” Pritchard said. The inflatables go from being flat to coming alive.
Pritchard said they’re fascinating.
“They’re all very different,” he said. “Some of them have their heads moving or their arms moving. The detail is one of the things I’m fascinated by — how they can get so much detail into a piece of fabric.”
Locals don’t seem to mind the spectacle. In seven years of putting up decorative inflatable displays, Pritchard has never heard a single complaint or had any vandalism. His neighbor to the east even allows Pritchard to put some of the inflatables in the yard next door.
Located across the street from Edgerton Elementary, Pritchard said the grade school kids usually come over to look at all of the holiday inflatables.
“They come over and walk through the yard,” he said. “There’s usually a steady flow of people in the yard from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock when the timers go off.”
Pritchard will take down the Christmas display sometime around Jan. 4. The trick is to find a day that’s windy enough to dry the inflatables. They need to be dry for storage. Until then, Pritchard encourages visitors to stop by and wander through his yard.
“I like to watch the kids dance in the yard and sing,” Pritchard said. “The adults are funny too. They’ll do the same thing. It just brings happiness at Christmas time.”