Niagara Gazette

Features

December 31, 2012

Express Yourself: Holiday decorations bring out the artist within

Niagara Gazette — One woman’s holiday project was inspired by the desire to throw a “yarn bomb.” Another’s Christmas display has grown more complex with each year, largely to entertain her grand children. And then there’s the computer programmer who spent all of the past year programming his first-ever front lawn light and music show.

While some take a simple route to holiday decorations, throwing a few lights up here and there, there seems to be one in every crowd who takes seasonal decorating to a new level. Sometimes more than one.

For many of those who just can’t seem to stop themselves, the projects typically start out fairly simple, but then seem to grow into what family, friends and neighbors can’t wait to stop over and see.  

When Sandie Bax of North Tonawanda started her Chirstmas village thirty years ago she didn’t imagine that it would eventually take several days to set up each year and that her collections of holiday figures and her lighted, moving little Christmas village, set out on a handful of long tables, would take over whole sections of her house.

And it’s not like she’s got the biggest display ever. She had a friend whose display was once three times bigger. But, Bax’s display, especially the dancers and skaters and Elvis’s Graceland, inspires friends to visit with their own grandchildren, as if her home was an itsty bitsy festival of lights. “I like to decorate the house,” she says simply when asked about her handiwork. “And my grandkids love it.”

Meanwhile, Chris Bakula of Wheatfield, hadn’t decorated the outside of his home for the past nine years. But right around Chirstmas of last year, he somehow got inspired to create a holiday display at his Jennifer Circle home unlike any his wife and four kids had ever seen.

Throughout this past year, he filled the famiy den with reams of twinkling lights and spent an estimated 30 hours a month figuring out a computer program that would bring his front yard to life. At the push of a button, seven holiday blowup figures fill with air and a 20 foot tree in the center of the design responds to 30 programmed songs while 10,000 blinking lights that appear to chase each other around the yard display.

While his family is pretty happy he’s finally gotten back into the spirit of Christmas, he’s already planning next year’s light show, when he hopes to double the amount of lights. “It’s going to be bigger and better next year,” he promises.

And yet, when it comes to the holidays, bigger isn’t always better.  Some people might walk by Lis Slenk’s house at 653 Main St. and completely miss her very first  “yarn bomb” out front.

But, because some people pay careful attention to the things around them, Slenk’s holiday production has been stopping more than a few pedestrians in their tracks.

Slenk recently began knitting again, a hobby she remembers starting at age 6 when she helped to make socks for the soldiers in World War II.

She joined a knitters group at the Lewiston Library and pretty quickly learned about “yarn bombing,” sometimes called “guerrilla knitting.” A quick check on the Internet yielded lots of photos of object completely covered in yarn, from army tanks, to statues to cars wrapped lovingly in colorful swatches of yarn by “guerrilla” knitters.

Slenk, who had recently began knitting again — a hobby she remembers starting at age 6 when she helped to make socks for the soldiers in World War II — threw her first yarn bomb, swaddling the tree in front of her home with color. Then she placed some ornaments on its branches, in keeping with the spirit of the holidays.

“It’s cool,” she said of her tree. “I watch people go by who don’t even notice it. But, this morning I saw a woman stop and very tenderly put her hand out and touch it. Then I saw a very young woman stop, whip out her cell phone and take a picture.”

Liz plans to keep the tree yarn bombed for as long as she can, perhaps hoping to inspire other would-be yarn bombers, and to share the joy of the season throughout the year. “I’m just going to leave it up and see what happens,” she smiled.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
  • SUN LIFE Opera intern 072714.jpg [Duplicate] Singing her heart out: Newfane woman wins prestigious apprenticeship twice. Rebecca Witty says she started singing in the womb. That might be an exaggeration, but the Newfane woman's love of music began at a very early age. "Music has always been in my life since I was a kid," she said. "My family is made up of musicians so that has played a big part of my love for music since the beginning."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Chef cooking demos 2 072714.jpg [Duplicate] F-BITES: Celebrity chef Bobby Anderson wants kids to learn more than just cooking. As a loudspeaker played "Waiting for the World to Change," Chef Bobby Anderson was busy changing it, just the other day. For Anderson, the cooking lessons he's conducting with local students this summer on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls are entertaining crowds and giving young chefs life-changing exposure to new foods, new flavors and new experiences.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE fair story 6 072714.jpg [Duplicate] More than rides and food at the Niagara County Fair

    July 28, 2014 8 Photos

  • mug - stack, catherine RGB [Duplicate] [Duplicate] NATURAL HEALTH: Taking a closer look at migraine causes and treatments

    Headaches come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a mild tension headache to a migraine that has you locked up in a dark room afraid to move. Migraine and cluster headaches are by far the worst. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE tattoo 3 072714.jpg [Duplicate] Behind the tattoo gun — Niagara Tatoo Expo coming up

    Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink. 

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • mug - Jennings, Thom RGB [Duplicate] JENNINGS: It's the end of an era for fans of The Ramones

    Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi formed one of the most influential bands in music history in 1974 — better known by their stage names Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone. The last surviving member, Tommy, passed away July 11.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE TOPS woman 2 072714 .jpg [Duplicate] Local woman honored for weight-loss success

    After Carolyn Sherman’s husband passed away, she became depressed, and her weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds. Wheelchair-bound, she ended up at Odd Fellow & Rebekah Health Care Facility in Lockport.

     

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • NIA Biz logo 072814 IN BUSINESS: ReNU director named to '30 Under 30' list Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara, has been named to the 2014 class of Buffalo Business First's 30 Under 30 honorees. The award recognizes 30 Western New Yorkers in the early stages of their careers who are achieving at high levels at work and in the community.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUNLIFELexisPlace1072014jpg (1).jpg Lexi's Place: A safe haven for teens battling suicide, sexual abuse and depression

    In a perfect world, a 14-year-old wouldn’t know exactly how it feels to try suicide.
    An 11-year-old who reaches out to the unwanted kids at school would not be thrown against a locker and bullied by other teens trying to make her feel small.
    And surely no teen would have a father who, when she was small, would give her to his friends for sex.
    All those things happened to the teens at Lexi’s Place.

    July 22, 2014 8 Photos

  • SUN LIFE wine fest 3 072014.jpg [Duplicate] Sip the Niagara Wine Trail's best in one location The Niagara Wine Trail reveals it's sweetness slowly, and only to those dedicated enough to spend the time. There are 27 wineries and to sample a taste of each requires much driving through the backroads of the Niagara region, and far too much sipping to make driving a logical possibility. That's what makes the trail's 6th annual Wine and Culinary event such a good idea. Wine lovers who've always wanted to explore the new and unusual offerings of the 14-year-old wine trail, can do so next weekend, all in one place.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page