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Christmas past still haunting Southland homes

An evergreen tree is adorned with ornaments as well as snow along Marley Road New Lenox.  |  Susan

An evergreen tree is adorned with ornaments as well as snow along Marley Road in New Lenox. | Susan DeMar Lafferty~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 13, 2014 6:31AM



The calendar may say Valentine’s Day is this week, but it’s continuing to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go.

Thanks to the polar vortex, the holiday spirit has been frozen in time. The aptly named icicle lights still dangle from several eaves, many baby Jesus figures lie swaddled in blankets of snow and weather-beaten wreaths still cling to homes and mailboxes.

Temperatures plunged and the snow piled up in the days and weeks since Christmas and have lasted long into the second month of the new year, giving homeowners good reason to delay dismantling the decor, rather than risk a climb on a slippery roof.

Remnants of this Christmas past are plentiful, and even some holiday lights still are visible at night, giving a festive glow to an otherwise tundra-like landscape.

“These are winter decorations. It’s for winter ambiance,” August Garritano said as he laughed about the decorated trees and electric snowman still in the family’s front yard on Marley Road in New Lenox. A manger scene is tucked under snow-covered bushes.

“We’re in a state of transition,” he said, pointing to the Valentine’s wreath on the front door. “We’re transitioning slowly but surely.”

“If this were last year, all this would have been down by now. It’s just too cold. If there had been an instant of thaw, my dad would have taken everything down,” Garritano said.

That thaw may be on the way. The National Weather Service is predicting the mercury may get as high as 33 degrees Thursday, but then may dip again into the 20s the rest of the week, according to its website.

The Patterson’s expansive front yard on Schoolhouse Road near Riivendell Drive in New Lenox always is filled with lights and decorations for the holidays — and still is.

Electric trees still are standing, strings of lights remain wrapped around the trees and other decorations are barely visible under layers of snow.

“I kept the lights on longer than usual this year,” Bill Patterson said, adding that while the lights no longer are lit, he can’t get to the cords.

“Everything is frozen into the ground. And the roof is frozen. I don’t want to slip off the roof,” he said, noting that his illuminated snowflakes still hang from the eaves.

About half of his decorations have been taken down, “but my wife wants to get everything down,” he said.

Janice Primozic usually takes her holiday lights and figures down by Jan. 6, “but not this year,” she said. “It’s been wild.”

“I find it depressing,” she said. “It’s been so cold.”

In her yard on Surf Drive in New Lenox, the Santa figure and his reindeer are weighed down by the snow, while Jesus, Mary and Joseph lie hidden in a snowdrift with only the snow-covered manger visible.

“I have no choice. I’m afraid to take a ladder out there,” Primozic said, about retrieving the icicle lights on her garage. “My daughters put it up for me, and they will take care of it all.”

For Dennis Dertz, of Tinley Park, the outdoor holiday decor is the domain of his wife, Donna, who is “pulling her hair out” because she can’t yet take down the lights and garland.

“She wanted it down like 20 minutes after Christmas was over,” he said, standing outside his house at Ironwood Drive and 164th Court.

Dertz said his wife lives by the motto, “There’s a place for everything, and everything in it’s place,” and she’s frustrated she can’t “get things buttoned up and put away.”

Not far from Dertz’s home, John Szymanski looked over the snow-encrusted lights that appeared to be fused to the branches of bushes in his front yard.

“I’m not sure I could get them (strings of lights) off even if I wanted to,” he said.

While having decorations still up so many weeks after the holiday looks odd, Szymanski said he knows he’s in good company and that there’s no rush to take anything down.

“I’m not going to freeze my (rear) when I don’t have to,” he said.

Homeowners need not make any apologies. It’s even too cold for the pros.

Rob Dupre, of Christmas Decor in New Lenox, who does residential and commercial decorations, typically has everything taken down for his customers by the end of January.

“I had guys out there a couple of weeks ago, chipping away at the ice, trying to get lights down. But it’s unsafe. It’s impractical,” he said. His crews were able to dismantle most of the ground decorations and just made sure the lights were unplugged, he said. The lights on roofs will have to wait until the thaw because it’s too hazardous to take them down now, he said.

“It’s been a crazy year. It feels like Christmas is just around the corner,” Dupre said.

Contributing: Mike Nolan



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