December 24, 2004
Hazelann Chupp surveys the side-by-side yards blanketed in Christmas decorations.
"This is as big as it can get, because you know it really could get out of hand," she says. It’s hard to tell if she’s serious or just trying to convince herself.
There’s one person not buying it — her next-door neighbor, daughter and cohort — Stephinie Martinez.
"She says this every year," Martinez says, shaking her head, "and every year it just gets bigger."
Looking upon the side-byside displays on Horne, south of Broadway Road in Mesa, it’s hard to imagine them getting any bigger. Both yards are splattered with all things Christmas — only a patch or two of green grass peeking through.
The yards feature deer, elves, snowmen, white lights, silk poinsettias, gingerbread men, dolls dressed in their holiday best and too many Santas to count. A Christmas tree or two is mixed in for good measure. Front and center of both yards are mangers, each with a Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus.
The mother-daughter decorators say they decided about seven years ago to deck the halls way out. Back then, their holiday displays fit neatly in one shed in Chupp’s backyard. Today there are four sheds brimming with holiday decorations.
But it’s not just Christmas. Chupp and Martinez decorate extensively for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Martinez says she and her mother "just got the spirit," and that’s what drives them to decorate to the hilt. "We celebrate like this because life is too short," she says. "All the chaos in the world, you just got to spread joy."
Not much gets this joyful pair down, except for when someone recently stole baby Jesus from the manger in front of Chupp’s house. Mother and daughter quickly replaced him, even though it meant buying another Joseph and Mary as well.
"You can steal him from a manger, but you can’t steal his birthday from him," Martinez says. "After all he’s done for us, you better believe he’s gonna be featured here."