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Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016

He's got Christmas spirit to spare

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shannon Johnson's penchant for decorating probably leaves him little time for relaxation in the month of November. The day after he begins taking down the elaborate Halloween decorations at his 753 Clark St. home, he begins the daunting task of decorating for Christmas.

With more than 15,000 lights to hang and scores of individual displays to set up, Johnson, with the help of his friend, Drew Coffman is kept busy much of the month setting up the annual display of vintage decorations he has collected over the years.

"I already had the Christmas lights on the house outlined while the Halloween decorations were up," Johnson said. "We just gradually switched over."

Shannon Johnson stands near a few of his vintage nativity scenes inside his house.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
The large yard on the north side of his house is covered with multiple displays, including a hand-crafted, animated version of Santa's sleigh and reindeer, which Johnson built with the help of friend.

"From 1984 to 1992, there was a set like that in the post office lawn, which Harold Wallace owned," Johnson said. "When I was little, he had it at his house and I would go out there in snow, rain or whatever and just sit and watch it. In 1991, he let me have the pattern and he helped me build everything. A lot of people think it's the one from the post office, but it is not, it's just a duplicate. This is this one's 22nd year in my yard. If I had to sell everything, this is what would stay."

The display also includes more than 300 individual lighted figurines for the yard, including a vintage nativity scene that was shipped to him from Pennsylvania on a Greyhound bus in three large boxes.

Santa's sleigh and reindeer with animated movements is one of dozens of displays in Shannon Johnson's yard at 753 Clark. Johnson said he handmade this display off a pattern from one that previously had graced the lawn in front of the post office.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
The decorations don't stop in Johnson's front yard. The entire yard in the back and his patio area also play host to numerous displays of the nativity, choirs and assorted Santas and elves.

"My grandparents lived here, Ray and Virginia DeMott, and I decorated for them every year," Johnson said. "My parents lived in LaHarpe and I did the same type of thing on a farm there. We did that until 1990 something."

Johnson said this is his fourth Christmas in Fort Scott.

People who stop to enjoy the display outside his house probably don't realize the scope of what's going on inside. Johnson doesn't stop at the exterior when the decorating bug hits. The inside of the house features a Christmas tree decorated with hundreds of tiny pixies, a wall with shelves lined with dozens of vintage nativity scenes and plastic figurines lighted and poised on shelves near the top of the ceiling.

He said he has more than 400 pixies strewn about the house.

"I eBay them all the time, and honestly, a lot of them I just find the old heads and I actually stuff them myself and I use hot glue to make them," Johnson said. "I have more heads ordered right now."

"It takes at least three weeks to get everything done in the house," Johnson said. "And I'm still not done. I still have to do the bedrooms, but we do have the tree up in the bathroom. Every room has something in it."

He said he just got everything lit up inside the house on Saturday night.

Johnson said he usually leaves the displays up until Jan. 10.

"Or just whenever I get in the mood to start tearing it down," Johnson said.

Asked why he goes through all the work of decorating, Johnson is quick to respond.

"I ask myself the same thing, " Johnson said. "It's a lot of work."

But Johnson doesn't stop when he is done with his house. He also helps decorate several houses in his neighborhood and also for his relatives. He estimates he probably had a hand in decorating eight or nine houses this year, sometimes supplying much of the materials to decorate.

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