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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Merry and bright: Holiday lights displays, including the Sheppard family’s in Spokane Valley, illuminate the region

Chris Sheppard had considered canceling her Christmas lights display this year.

“But people really need an outlet,” she said, pun intended. This display is sure to knock your Christmas stockings off.

Health guidelines might be limiting the lion’s share of Christmas festivities this year, but with thousands if not tens of thousands of lights, more than 70 Christmas-themed inflatables and more than 100 Christmas dog light displays, the Sheppard family’s Christmas light extravaganza is about as far from canceled as can be.

Take that, COVID-19.

“People need something to look forward to in this age of COVID,” she said. “We just need to adapt and keep making things happen.”

Christmas lights have always been a big part of the holiday season for Sheppard.

“I remember growing up, our big thing was to get in the old family station wagon and tour around town looking at Christmas lights,” she said. “I’ve always thought Christmas was really magical.”

Sheppard has been working magic with her own family’s Christmas light display for 25 years. She might not be able to hand out candy canes to passersby, but, rest assured, this year’s show will be bigger and brighter than ever.

Typically lit from 4:30-10 p.m., the display is located just off Interstate 90 at the Thierman/Appleway exit. Take a right on Eighth Avenue, then a left on Dickie/Bettman, and the Sheppard family’s Christmas lights, overseen by a 20-foot-tall inflated Snoopy and a smaller but no less cute Baby Yoda, will be difficult to miss at 1722 S. Bettman Road in Spokane Valley.

Before setup, the specially designed rafters of Sheppard’s three-car garage are filled to the roof with boxes of lights and other decorations varying in size.

“My husband loves to take it all down, but he doesn’t really like to put it up,” Sheppard said, explaining how she enlists help from friends for the lengthy setup every year. “He’s not quite into the holidays like I am.”

Between Halloween tear down – her Halloween displays rival Christmas – and Thanksgiving, the Christmas display, which now reaches down the street into neighboring front yards, takes Sheppard nearly a month to complete.

“It’s a labor of love,” Sheppard said, explaining how her house was built to accommodate extra storage and the higher-than-usual electricity use. “Avista’s my No. 1 fan.”