- COMMUNITY LINKS
Kersey residents Justin Peiffer and David Slother have gotten used to people parking in their driveway as they take in their elaborate Christmas light display.
The Ruffner Lane residence is situated on state Route 948, making it an ideal location to showcase the 300- piece menagerie, featuring a variety of scenes including a choir, Disney characters, a Santa Claus train, numerous versions of Santa and Mrs. Claus, a CandyLand section, a reindeer sleigh,a garland archway in the driveway and an Arctic-themed display in the side yard.
"The community loves it, the whole county loves it," Slother said. "Nursing homes bring residents by on a tour. We even see vans coming from DuBois."
Peiffer's hobby of collecting holiday decorations has had a positive impact on Slother, his partner of six years.
"I never really had Christmas all my life, so I'm really into Christmas now," Slother said.
Together the couple goes all-out for Christmas, decking out both the inside and outside of their home in bright and festive decor.
An indoor wonderland
Eight trees, each with its own theme, are situated throughout the home. A woodland tree featuring mice, bears and moose in a gold-and-red color scheme is displayed in the television room. The kitchen area's white tree is decorated with copper, gold and black ornaments, while the tree inside the spare bedroom is a keepsake piece of Peiffer's featuring many ornaments from his youth.
Smaller trees in the dining room include black and silver ornaments. There is also the bathroom's bear- themed tree, a Hershey-themed tree in the bedroom and a white and silver tree atop the kitchen cabinets.
Peiffer's said his favorite tree is his Disney tree. While visiting Disney World with his aunt, with whom he lived with for a brief time in Florida, the duo perused a selection of Disney holiday items.
"They had cool glass-blown ornaments and I couldn't help myself and bought about $100 worth of them. That started the whole thing." Peiffer said. "That year I decided I wanted bright, vivid and colorful stuff for a Disney tree. It has evolved from there."
He explained that each time his family visited Disney World, he would purchase items at the Disney Christmas store, open year-round.
Among the Disney tree ornaments are those featuring such beloved characters as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Nemo, several pieces from numerous Disney parks, such as Animal Kingdom, and a variety of Mickey ear ornaments.
Although his Hershey-themed tree is small in size, it has a great deal of sentimental value.
"My Hershey tree has special meaning to me, as it was passed down from my grandmother after she passed away," Peiffer noted. "It's a very big thing for my family because a lot of them worked for Hershey and my grandmother worked for Hershey until she retired."
He added that each time he visits his family, who reside in the Lebanon area, he purchases new Hershey pieces.
In addition to the myriad of trees, Peiffer also owns an impressive 30-piece nutcracker collection which he has been accumulating over the past five or six years. He has also collected snowmen and Nativity sets. One of his more unique pieces is a Nativity set featuring bear characters, along with a white porcelain set inherited from his grandmother. His first Nativity set is located in the living room and includes larger figurines.
"Over the years, the things I've collected has changed. I've pretty much collected all the snowmen and Santa Clauses I want," he said. "I am always looking for the next new thing."
The constant collector
Since the age of four, Peiffer has been collecting holiday items, starting with a small display of plastic lampposts that his mother purchased for him.
In high school, he received Santa and Mrs. Claus outdoor pieces and a Nativity set.
"It kind of grew over the years," he said. "Once I got out on my own is when the outside and the inside started to gradually grow."
Both Peiffer and Slother are employed at Pinecrest Manor in St. Marys, and save a portion of their paychecks for their holiday hobby.
"We both have a sickness that we have to check eBay everyday for Christmas stuff," Slother joked.
According to Peiffer, he purchases his collectibles from several places and businesses ranging from yard sales to department stores.
Locally he frequents The Peppermint Stick, Elk Regional Health Center's gift shop, and Ridgway True Value.
Peiffer explained that he works closely with Ridgway True Value owners Becky and Rich Ross.
"She (Becky) calls me every year before going to a Christmas show in March and asks if I have any special requests," he said. "This year I walked into the store and knew I wanted the reindeer marching band the minute I saw them."
He added that the reindeer, which are situated on his front porch, are made of leftover Christmas tree parts.
Throughout the years, Peiffer's outdoor display has grown from 60 to at least 300 pieces. This year the couple was given permission by their neighbor to utilize a portion of her yard for a snowman display, as they ran out of room on their property.
In addition to his Christmas display, Peiffer has also collected 40 pieces as part of his Easter display, along with a patriotic display for Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July. They also decorate with red and pink lights for Valentine's Day and green lights for St. Patrick's Day.
For more on this story, see the Dec. 31 edition of The Daily Press.