By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – Around this time of the year Steve Schuette is used to people honking as they drive by or even stopping for a look.
Schuette, 62, has constructed a winter wonderland of inflatable Christmas decorations in his driveway in some form or another for decades.
“This is all about the kids,” Schuette said.
It all started in 1994 when he had about five inflatables up. Since then it has grown every year and shows no signs of stopping.
The more than 100 inflatables is an extension of his Christmas spirit from the bar he owns, Shoots Bar and Grill, where there are close to 32,000 bulbs up this time of the year.
“I love Christmas,” Schuette said.
That love has led to more than half of mile of extension cords in his yard and a collection of inflatables that keeps growing.
“Once I get them all up on average I’ll probably get 50 or 60 cars a night,” he said. “The closer it gets to Christmas the cars will line-up on Velp.”
While he does say it’s a lot of work to put the inflatables up, he admits he won’t stop because children will come up to him and ask if he’s doing it again.
“All the kid’s smiles and stuff, I love to see that,” Schuette said.
He and his fiance will sit by the window and watch all of the people come through and enjoy the inflatables.
His display, located at 13212 Velp Ave., will be up every night, weather permitting, from about 3 to 8 p.m.
Wind and freezing rain can however mean havoc for inflatable yard decorations, so people should make sure the weather is nice before making the trip.
He encourages people to drive through or even park at the nearby Saputo cheese factory and walk through, as some families take Christmas card pictures there.
“The characters are the best, anything with Santa Claus, the Grinch, things like that,” he said.
Schuette does ask however that people enter from the south and leave going to the north as backed up traffic can be an issue.
He had help in the past from his three children and three step-children but they quickly learned how much effort goes into the project every year.
“I tell every one of them ‘When I die you’re inheriting these blowups,’ and they say ‘No we’re not,’” Schuette said.
His display is free for people to enjoy, but he mentioned Shoots will be open for any folks who might be hungry after viewing the display.
“If they’d like to get a burger at Shoots I’d really appreciate it,” he said.