It's the holiday season, which means lights are everywhere: On your neighbor's house, decorating the local bar, and on buildings of downtown Phoenix. During the buildup to Christmas, Jackalope Ranch will be running the numbers on some of the best and brightest light displays around the Valley.
If you're a fan of large holiday light displays around the Valley, undoubtedly you've heard of Bob and Bernard Rix.
The fraternal twin brothers are local legends amongst the Christmas decorating crowd thanks to the ungodly amounts of gaudy Yuletide lights, baubles, ornaments, and standees they foisted up on their respective houses each year. (They even were the subject of a New Times cover story back in 1996.) For decades, Bob and Bernard engaged in a sibling rivalry writ large, where each tried to outdo the other by creating the bigger and better monuments to the merry season.
These days, the Rix brothers are still brightening up their residences in honor of the season, although the rivalry is pretty much non-existent and both have scaled back their efforts. It's also the final year of decorating for Bernard, as the 73-year-old has decided to retire from the Christmas business due to his advancing age. Bob, despite suffering from emphysema and needing constant oxygen, says he's "got another couple years" of hauling out the lights left before he calls it quits.
Strands and lights: Bernard Rix says he used 30,000 lights to get his North Phoenix house glowing, including bulbs that illuminate the multitude of wooden angels in his front yard. Consequently, Bob only needed 20,000 lights to decorate his Tudor-style residence in the Coronado neighborhood.
Inflatables. None. Neither brother utilizes any blow-up attractions, as they both prefer to keep things old school.
Other decorations: Each house offers a different take on the holidays. Bernard's setup includes more than 40 hand-painted plywood standees of cherubic angels that were created over the past three months. There's also a large concrete pond and fountain in the front yard, complete with a standee of Santa diving in for a dip. He also used to open the inside of his house up to the public in order to show off an ample collection of Christmas decorations and stuffed animals, but opted out this year due to new carpeting he's recently installed.
Bob, however, keeps things fairly minimal at this house, located near 16th and Brill streets: Lights adorn the outside and are arranged into the shape of candy canes and Christmas trees. The main event, however, is inside. Three rooms of his house contain more than 500 Victorian-style miniature houses (which are arranged from floor to ceiling) and several toy trains.
Estimated electricity bill: Bernard says he spends $300 to power his display, as well as the floodlights that show off the angels. Bob's payment to the electric company is a bit less and comes to about $200.
Why do you decorate? "If I didn't, I'd just be sitting around doing nothing," Bob says. "And besides, I wouldn't want all my decorations to go to waste." Bernard, however, has had his fill of decorating. "I've done this for all my life, but my kids are all grown up and I'm looking forward to having a plain old Christmas [next year] without having to put up anything."
Bob Rix's holiday display is located at 1517 East Brill Street. Bernard Rix's can be found at 2349 West Kathleen Street. Hours for both are 6-10 p.m. nightly through January 1.
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