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HOLIDAY LIGHTS: Windsor’s Gingerbread House and a choreographed light show

Holiday lights are burning brightly in Windsor this month. Displays worth visiting include the Gingerbread House that will be featured Dec. 22 on “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” and a more modest but still stunning array on Lazy Creek Drive.

They’re among those included on the Press Democrat’s online Holiday Lights Map. Add yours at pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/3232186-181/christmas-lights-submission-form.

150 Melva Court, Windsor

The Mortensens’ Gingerbread House at 150 Melva Court is competing nationally for $50,000 in ABC-TV’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight.”

On Monday, Dec. 22, national viewers will get a look at the home’s hand-made painted candy canes, a large cuckoo clock, animatronic Disney characters, gingerbread figures and thousands of lights synchronized to music such as “Wizards in Winter” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. A 1966 replica Batmobile is parked next to Santa’s Workshop in the garage.

Local visitors can see the real thing nightly. The two-story house at the end of a cul-de-sac will be lit 6-9 p.m. weekdays, 6-10 p.m. weekends. To spare the neighbors from a month’s worth of music, visitors can hear the songs by tuning in to 88.1 FM.

Jim and Theresa Mortensen ask visitors to place a can of food for the Redwood Gospel Mission into a collection barrel below the cuckoo clock.

“It will bless a lot of people,” Jim Mortensen said.

The family has been illuminating their house since 1990 and has transformed it into a gingerbread house for the past 10 years.

They did not plan to decorate this year because their 26-year-old daughter Kristine passed away in July.

“We all talked and decided we needed this to distract the sorrow we were going through,” Mortensen said. “Our daughter always pushed us each year to add more lights, so we did it for her and her 8-year-old daughter Brooke.”

It takes three weeks to set up and one day to take down the display, and everything is stored in and above the garage.

“It’s like building a mountain with pebbles. You do one thing at a time,” Mortensen said.

9511 Lazy Creek Drive, Windsor

For the past five years, Josh and Kim Gilmore have been transforming their home at 9511 Lazy Creek Drive into a “must see” stop on the tour of Windsor’s brightly illuminated homes.

“There are a couple hundred strands of lights,” said Josh Gilmore, a Marin County park ranger.

“We go nuts with the Christmas lights and love to share them with others in Sonoma County,” Gilmore said.

Lights cover the front yard, which also holds an inflatable Santa, a penguin and Mickey Mouse piloting a plane with a spinning propeller.

“We start two weeks before Thanksgiving, and they’re up and running by then. Kim does the whole garage,” he said. “A lot of people swing by.

“The PG&E bill is $800-$900 a month, but all the smiles we see make it worth it.”

Like many other decorated homes, the lights at the Gilmore home blink in sync with music. They are on 6-9 p.m., and the Gilmores leave them up through New Year’s Day.

The couple have an 8-year-old daughter and a baby due in March. “It’s been a lifelong dream of my wife to have her house talked about in a newspaper. Happy Holidays,” Gilmore said.

Contact Windsor Towns Correspondent James Lanaras at WindsorTownNews@gmail.com.

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