Mayor Christmas: Cottage Grove's Myron Bailey and family go all out with holiday decorationsMyron and Cindy Bailey’s outdoor holiday display developed over decades.
The 200 decorations and 20,000 Christmas lights in Myron Bailey’s front yard got their start a bit like the holiday Cottage Grove’s mayor so enjoys celebrating. That is, to say, with a manger scene.
To suggest Bailey enjoys bedecking his Jasmine Avenue home for the holidays would be an understatement. The yard is adorned with decorations and figurines of all shapes, sizes and ages — wooden, plastic, inflatable, brand new and decades-old hand-me-downs.
“I just loved the holiday and I thought this would be a great thing,” Bailey said.
It began with a nativity display, he said, that Bailey’s grandparents passed to him in the early 1980s when they no longer had the energy to decorate their yard on Rice Street in St. Paul. Come Christmastime, his parents decorated the family’s Hamlet Avenue home inside and out, a tradition he helped with and carried on with his wife, Cindy, as they started their own family.
“It’s the faces of the kids, and the parents and the fact people come by every year,” Bailey said. “It’s a passion of mine. It’s kind of a different way of giving back to the community.”
It is a tradition and passion that has continued to grow. With some help from the couples’ three sons and some family friends — Cindy is the Christmas light expert, they said, and a friend offers critical electrical engineering know-how — the Baileys have added to their winter wonderland of a display each year for over two decades, replacing retired decorations and adding new ones he finds wherever they go.
Start decorating early, use lots of fuses
Set-up typically begins around Halloween, Bailey said, with decorations taking their places in the yard a little before Thanksgiving.
There’s some science to it, too. Years of blown fuses — and the odd electrical cord in flames — have led to a zone system with decorations mapped out to turn on at different times and to pull electricity from different fuses. A larger fuse box, installed by Xcel Energy, has also helped keep the display growing, Bailey said.
“We basically had to have all the lights off inside to run the lights outside,” Bailey said. “If you ran a microwave, you blew a fuse. If you ran the vacuum, you blew a fuse.”
Outrageous December electric bills — especially in the days before energy-efficient LED lights — aren’t the only danger, the Baileys joked. There have been the Clark Griswold-esque close-calls, Bailey said, like the time a few years ago when he nearly slid off the roof, hanging on until his son grabbed a ladder so he could climb down to safety.
“It’s something that’s a lot of work, absolutely,” Bailey said. “But, I love it.”
Why put in the hours of extra work during what can often be a busy, stressful season?
For Cottage Grove’s Mayor Christmas, it’s the tradition and sentiment of this time of year that keeps the family placing that manger scene in the front yard each holiday season.
“Christmas, to me, is about family. It’s (about) loving one another, helping people who may need help, whether it’s the Holiday Train tying in the community together (or) people helping others out,” Bailey said. “People seem to be friendlier this time of year. Everybody seems to have a little extra oomph in their step and a smile on their face and it’s fun to be a part of that.”