COLUMBIA — With more than 35,000 Christmas lights strung across the front of his house, Ryan Schultz is hoping to turn his love for the holiday into a must-see attraction.
The front of the single-family house at 4816 Glencairn Drive is covered in lights — the yard with rows of green bulbs and the roof striped red and white with 15,000 more lights. On either side of the driveway stand 10-foot-tall candy-canes, and along the sidewalk are fences wrapped in thousands of lights. Two trees in the front lawn are covered in little white bulbs.
"I kinda like going over the top on things, and you know, taking it to the next level," Schultz said.
This year, Schultz, 33, decided to name the house the Candy Cane Crib. To make the name official, of course, he created a 1,000 light sign that now hangs above the home's garage door.
"My ultimate goal is that I want to be on everybody's holiday lighting tour, pretty much," he said. "I want everyone to be like, 'You gotta go see this guy's house, you gotta see the Magic Tree.'"
Schultz has been putting up lights for four years but says the display gets bigger and brighter every winter. Each year, he holds a lighting ceremony the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Although the first year it was just him and group of five or six close friends, this year Schultz said 35 people attended.
This year, Schultz held a special second lighting for friends and family. With the help of two friends and the flip of a switch, a sign made of his holidays lights asked his girlfriend, Nancy Rehmert, for her hand in marriage. With the couple's 1-year-old son, Knox Schultz, dressed as an elf, in tow, Rehmert said yes.
"It's kind of cool, it's clever," Schultz said about the proposal. "My passion is this, of course, and I love Christmas time — perfect opportunity to do it."
With the lights on every night, Schultz said his electric bill increases by $150 to $200 more than his typical bill during the month of December. To pay for the new lights every year and the increased utilities bill, Schultz hangs Christmas lights for members of the Country Club of Missouri, where he works as the club's golf pro.
There's nothing Schultz enjoys more than a night full of U-turns.
As a sedan makes a U-turn to come back for a second view Friday evening, Schultz ran out to greet the car.
"Yes, they turned around! Yes!" he shouted. "See? This is the best part. Do you want a candy cane?"
The back window of the car rolled down and a soft voice responded with a "Yes."
This was 5-year-old Isabella Jones' first time visiting the Candy Cane Crib. Her father, Tate, said she gave it many "Woahs" from the back of the car.
Later Friday evening, a retirement center's bus drove by and also pulled a U-turn. Schultz responded with a quick fist-pump. As the bus opened its doors, he hopped in and wished the retirees a "Merry Christmas."
Schultz asked the passengers if they had seen any other good lights on their tour, and from the back of the bus a voice responded, "None like these."
"People stop, and they come and have beers, and we chit-chat," Schultz said. "I've met some neighbors I haven't met before. I just like going up and talking about Christmas really."
This year, along with the new name, Schultz created a Facebook page to help spread the word. The lights at the Candy Cane Crib are up through New Year's Day and are on between 5:30 and 11 p.m.
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