Plymouth family flips a switch on its annual Christmas display.
For more than two decades, Tim and Cathy Fischer have been celebrating the reason for the season by sharing their love of Christmas and Christmas lights with the Plymouth community. Each December, the Fischers fire up some 40,000 lights to the delight of both newcomers as well as families who have made a tradition out of visiting their display.
“It’s never been about the size or the spectacle,” Cathy says. “We want to get the Christmas message out.”
The Fischers have been putting up their display since 1999, but Tim’s love for Christmas lights dates back much further than that. “I always loved Christmas lights,” he says. “I took the opportunity to decorate whatever space was available—my bedroom as a child, my dorm room, etc.”
In 1996, a big opportunity came when Tim bought his first home. “That was my first chance to do a display,” he says.
Each year since, the display has grown, with more lights and new elements added. Year two, Tim tripled the lights he put up. Year four, he added a computer-controlled Merry Christmas sign. He also added Cathy. The couple married in 1999 and constructed their first display together that Christmas. “It wasn’t particularly big, but we had some unique displays,” Tim says.
They continued to add to their seasonal setup for the next few years until they moved to their current Plymouth home on 33rd Avenue in 2002. “We had a much bigger outdoor canvas there,” Cathy says.
A new canvas meant a new design, including what would become one of the hallmark features of their display, a Peanuts nativity scene. “It’s plywood cutouts,” Cathy says. “We built it ourselves.”
While the nativity scene was a relatively low-tech addition, the Fischers upped the ante by adding an FM radio broadcast configured to deliver an audio dose of Christmas cheer to accompany the lights. The very next year, the couple discovered computerized control and were able to create a show with music and lights in sync with one another. “I think we were the first to do that in the Twin Cities,” Tim says.
Being a young couple without kids then, the duo had plenty of time and energy to devote to the preparation and setup of the Christmas display. “I called it our year-round hobby,” Tim says. “It sat on the back burner of my brain.”
As they had kids, the Fischers had less time to devote to the display but more manpower to help with all the weekends devoted to the setup and tear down.
These days, the kids are getting older, and the display canvas is full. Add in the headaches associated with crowd control on busy Christmas weekends and the Fischers say things can feel overwhelming at times. “I don’t know how [much] longer we’ll keep doing it,” Tim says. “But we have no exit plan …”
“As long as we enjoy it,” Cathy says.