From tractor pulls to tenderloins, Hoosiers have always displayed a proud passion for their traditions.

And at this time of year, tradition turns to spectacular holiday lights and decorations.

“They are delightful,” said Lynn Lucas, who retired last year as executive director of the Columbus Area Visitors Center. “Outdoor decorations that people share with their neighbors take many of us back to our childhoods. They are really important to the community and area.”

Here are examples of decorated homes that readers found exceptional when asked to nominate their favorite displays.

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Jimmy and Kim Howell

3120 31st St.This time of year, there are always plenty of cars stopping in front of this home on the north side of Everroad Park East, just west of Marr Road.

Not many families with holiday decorations have their own working low-power radio station (93.5 FM) to broadcast Christmas music to entertain admirers of their home.

Even fewer have their own spinning, illuminated Santa-tracking radar system.

The jolly old elf himself appears about to ascend in his own hot-air balloon, with spinning Christmas trees inside two picture windows.

Those four unique displays are just a few among more than 200 that engulf both the front and backyards. Judging by the faces of the admiring public, the overall impact is overwhelming.

Jimmy Howell, a retired police officer, has transformed what began as a passion into a full-blown nightly promotion for Shop With a Cop, which will be held this Sunday.

But there’s also a heartfelt personal connection Jimmy Howell feels with both his radio station, the Santa Claus Radio Network (SCRN), and radar.

Several years ago, the broadcasting facility was his son’s senior-class project, while the radar was the last project Jimmy Howell worked on with his father, Jim Howell Sr., before his 2004 death, he said.

In addition to music, technology and aesthetics, Jimmy and Kim Howell have added acting to their repertoire. You will see the couple portraying Mr. and Mrs. Claus as they hand out candy canes from 7 to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday during December.

Chris Robertson

6152 E. County Road 550NIn the middle of remote farm fields one mile east of Clifford, you can see nearly 100 holiday displays collected over 20 years by Chris Robertson.

“I got a late start this year, so this is just about half of what I’ve got,” said Robertson, who promises an even larger display next year.

Nevertheless, it still took the retired Robertson more than 40 hours this year to set up everything — from shivering snowmen and a holiday hot tub to a Christmas archway and a helicopter.

There are also plenty of animated projections that help transform this rural home into a mystical Christmas wonderland.

Although he’s never requested contributions in the past, Robertson plans to ask for donations next year to the Columbus Fireman’s Cheer Fund, which he promises to match dollar-for-dollar.

Courtland Robertson

2204 California St.As a boy, Courtland Robertson was fascinated when his father, Chris Robertson, decorated the family’s home for both Halloween and Christmas.

Today, that fascination has motivated the son to bring the best from his parents’ Clifford residence to his own home at the corner of 22nd and California streets.

Looking below Santa on the roof, as well as the inflatable reindeer head outside the attic, you will see an outdoorsman theme with a fisherman Claus, camouflage Claus and hunter Claus on the lawn.

But there are also plenty of children’s favorites such as inflatable teddy bears, snowmen and elves. The flashing lights are synchronized to music that Robertson draws on from different sources.

Those who park nearby to take a look at the back porch area along 22nd Street will be treated to a high-resolution, rear-screen projection of Santa performing acts of magic while discreetly moving through a festive living room.

Rick and Tammy Owens

4800 Juniper CourtSeveral families are decorating the exteriors of their homes off Lowell Road, west of U.S. 31 — and Rick Owens may have been their motivation.

Raised in an area of Alaska where snow is almost guaranteed throughout the holiday season, Owens grew up believing that illuminating homes was part of everyone’s Christmas tradition, he said.

After moving to the corner of Juniper and Pinion Courts on the north side of Carter Crossing in 2008, Owens began hanging lights along the roof line of his new home.

With every passing year, he and his wife, Tammy, kept adding more decorations to the windows, trees, bushes and yard.

This year, the couple invested 50 hours to set up their exterior holiday lights and decorations to “give the kids something to stop and look at,” Rick Owens said.

Although there is plenty to see, the Owenses use tasteful color schemes and display placements that makes their residence look like a Better Homes and Gardens photograph.

The most eye-catching include multi-color tracer lights simulating melting icicles on the porch.

Larry and Sharon Fisher

1409 McClure RoadFor the past 20 years, neighbors have eagerly anticipated what Christmas decorations Larry Fisher and his nephew, Tyler, will put up during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

From Hollywood fantasy (“Minions” on a playground slide) to a traditional manger scene, most families will find something they will enjoy this year near 14th Street and McClure Road.

There’s an animated snowflake, as well as an animated Santa silhouette, that both display a plethora of colors. And if you count the one in the front window, there are no less than three decorated Christmas trees among the many displays.

Although Larry Fisher said putting up decorations gets harder as he gets older, the Columbus man recalled how a neighbor recently came up to him and thanked him for all his trouble.

When the neighbor explained his wife was suffering from cancer — but took great joy from looking at the decorations through her window — “it kept us motivated,” Fisher said.

More delightful decorations

Other reader-recommended homes decorated for the holidays can be found at:

  • 4953 East Longview Court, Columbus
  • 442 Center St., Columbus
  • 58 Nelson Ridge Road, just north of State Road 46 west of Columbus near the Bartholomew-Brown county line
  • 9221 E. County Road 475S, Elizabethtown

Five reasons to decorate exteriors

Five reasons to decorate your home’s exterior during the holiday season.

  1. Feel the presence of Christmas: Decorating the exterior of your home helps spread optimism when shorter days and colder temperatures makes many people feel depressed.
  2. Be a source of inspiration: Putting up Christmas decorations on your lawn can lift the spirits of entire families, especially children.
  3. Express your creativity: For many, the season of sharing seems the perfect time to share and showcase special talents that may go unnoticed the rest of the year.
  4. Makes your house look warm and beautiful: After the changing seasons, decorations add beauty to properties where trees have been left devoid of leaves.
  5. Remind others of priorities: Decorations help remind those so entangled with their daily routines to begin thinking about their loved ones before the end to the year.

Source: Christmas decorating consultant Beatty Brown

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5636.