Where do you find an Abominable Snowman, vintage elves, taxdermied rat scenes and about 100,000 lights? And glitter — lots of glitter? “Electric Lizzyland,” neighbor Liz Simmons’ holiday yard art.
If you’ve ever found yourself cruising down Newell Avenue in the Hollywood Heights neighborhood in December, you couldn’t miss Simmons’ high-wattage handiwork. It’s Vegas, baby, with a holiday twist. And Simmons will once again set the street aglow this year.
The madness took hold in 1997 when Simmons lived on Prospect Avenue in a fourplex. On a whim, she purchased 8,000 outdoor Christmas lights. “I thought I could just throw them up and have a party,” she says. “People really liked it.”
The happy experience cemented her sparkly fate. She remembers arriving home from work every night and firing up the glue gun to hot glue thousands of lights to the fourplex. When it was all in place and switched on, the neighbors threw a party but found that they had to take it outside. The electrical system was taxed. “You couldn’t turn on a light in my place. We couldn’t turn on the blender to make drinks,” she says.
Simmons eventually moved to Newell Avenue and continued the tradition. Electric Lizzyland is a dazzling display of thousands of lights and dozens of illuminated plastic figurines which were wildly popular in the 1960s. A sparkly 8-foot sleigh, which Simmons created, sits upon the lawn, filled with stuffed animals and giant wrapped presents. Simmons and friends made the Abominable Snowman with papier-maché floral wire and white fur.
Simmons’ handiwork is everywhere. Look for the “weird candy canes,” which she made herself. Among her favorites: the taxidermied rodents. A self-taught taxidermist, she learned the art from an instructional DVD.
It’s not just locals who’ve noticed and appreciated her work. In 2007, she placed in the top 20 in a nationwide Home Depot contest and a few years later she appeared on ABC-TV’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight.”
Simmons keeps an eye out year-round for holiday decorations and deals. She found a set of elves, dating from 1964, at a thrift store on Garland Road, and she frequently haunts estate sales and the Lakewood shop Curiosities for creepy/cool Santas. She also has anonymous help. “Sometimes I’ll come home to find a bag of weird little holiday things on my porch.”
She now covers her giant front-yard tree with 30,000 lights, using a rented boom lift. She also strings up large molds of Santa and his reindeer between her front tree and house.
Simmons has been hard at work “giltterizing” plywood sheets, which will cover the front and sides of her house. It fooled City Code Compliance, who stopped by one day and informed Simmons she absolutely could not paint her house with glitter. The matter soon was resolved and all is well with the City.
When you check out Simmons’ bright, glowing roof, know that she scurried up multiple times, sketching out a design, then painstakingly hot-gluing the lights one by one.
All this effort has garnered fans, particularly neighbors. According to Rosalyn Duke, “Her house needs to be on everyone’s Christmas list of must-dos.” Kalee Blythe and daughter Ellie are fans, too. “Liz’s tradition of holiday decorating truly brings the whole neighborhood together.”
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