Coulee Region Snow Globe: La Crosse area residents brighten community with decorations

La Crosse's East Fairchild Street and Stoddard's Sandy Buckles bring holiday cheer with lights
Holiday Lights

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Health experts recommend people should stay home for the holidays this year. Surveys show more people are decorating this year to spread holiday cheer in a safe way. There are a couple of neighborhoods where homeowners are doing their best to brighten people’s spirits.

The expiration date of a gut check year draws closer with each passing second. People are searching for a connection,

“We’re all looking for some sort of light,” Adam Hatfield said, a La Crosse resident.

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This once in a lifetime event is shaping the childhood experience of children, including Hatfield’s daughter.

“She’s been doing virtual school from the end of Kindergarten and through the first part of first grade,” he said.

Adults try to hang on to lives they worked so hard to build.

“I work in healthcare and my wife’s a third-grade teacher,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield found 2020 as an opportunity to start over and spread a little holiday cheer.

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“Taken this as a chance to pause and slow down a little bit,” Hatfield said.

There are some blocks in La Crosse where Christmas decorating is an unwritten rule.

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“This was the holiday lights block,” Hatfield said. “This was the Christmas block.”

There are others who have been doing this for more than 20 years. For 23 years, Stoddard’s Sandy Buckles has brightened the spirits of those who drive along State Highway 35.

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“Every year it’s grown,” Sandy Buckles said, a resident of Stoddard. “I love the holidays. It’s my favorite time of year.”

She said her husband started decorating small.

“He started with one little strand across the deck in which he thought was ridiculous,” Buckles said. “So he showed me the other end of ridiculous.”

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Their family friend Richard Lepsch helps set up their elaborate decorations.

“Sixty-thousand plus lights,” Lepsch said.

The electric bill is the mystery.

“He’s the one who gets the bill,” Lepsch said.

Ridiculous, maybe, but meaningful for so many.

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“I had a guy tell me that the only thing his mother in law wanted for Christmas was to sit in that wayside and look at our house,” Buckles said.

Gundersen Health System’s Christie Harris said simple things provide the best medicine.

“You have all of these mixed emotions and I think the decorations do a great job of helping to boost people’s morale a little bit,” Harris said.

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Volunteers help decorate at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse. Photo by MCHS.

The holidays can remind people about what is important.

“Maybe it isn’t all the gifts under the tree,” Harris said.

Buckles’ faith is important to her.

“The reason for the season,” she said. “Jesus.”

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The Coulee Region is a community snow globe full of light in the midst of darkness, a place we call, home.

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“A place where you can feel comfortable, a place where you can feel connected, and that again, during dark times can shine some light that’s pretty cool,” Hatfield said.

Buckles said they take every light down on New Years Day. Almost everything on her house is homemade. People can submit photos of their holiday display here.