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WCCO Viewers' Choice For Best Holiday Lights In Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Holiday lights are a big part of what gets us into the spirit of the season.

But which Minnesota neighborhood outshines all the rest? Chris Shaffer introduces us to a St. Paul man whose Christmas spirit was so strong, it spread down the entire block.

If you find yourself driving around the East Side of St. Paul this holiday season, and you spy an entire block with flickering lights, don't be alarmed! It's just Doug Schultz.

We know he can replace a light bulb, but how many "Dougs" does it take to light up an entire neighborhood? Well, it appears just one.

Doug and his wife have lived off of York Avenue and Hazelwood Street for close to 30 years. Decorating for Christmas is simply a family tradition.

"Back growing up, my mom was big into doing Christmas lights in the house, and when I bought the house here, we started putting some decorations out, lights on the house and a couple plastic figurines," Doug said.

Each year, his Christmas display got a little bigger.

"Over the years, we kept buying more and more items, the plastic figures and stuff at garage sales and Craigslist," he said.

Best Holiday Lights In Minnesota East St. Paul
(credit: CBS)

Doug didn't know it at the time, but he was on a mission. The collection grew along with their holiday spirit, until they reached a Christmas critical mass! They ran out of yard!

"I think it was in 2012. We were sitting around the bonfire with the neighbors one summer night," Doug said.

It was at that point that Doug asked a question of his neighbors that would forever change this St. Paul neighborhood.

"I said, 'Hey, you know, can I put Christmas in your yard?'" Doug said.

Ten of Doug's neighbor's yards make up this beautifully choreographed display called "The Schultz Family Lights."

Trolleys, busses and cars slowly troll by, filling each onlooker with Christmas spirit, very much like the original Christmas light. And like the original Christmas story, people bring gifts.

"Last year, we were just over 6,000 pounds collected and given to Merrick [Community Services] between the cash and the foods," he said.

With 10 different yards and miles of cord, it takes Doug two weeks to set this up -- yet he doesn't take a dime.

"I get the joy of seeing the kids' faces and watching the kids wave to Santa," he said.

And perhaps Doug's plan is this simple: To get a few more people to see the light.

Doug has even offered to help his neighbors with their electricity bills to help defer the cost, but so far none has taken him up on it.


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