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Official Article

Retro Christmas Wonderland Part 1

One of the most enjoyable parts of Christmas is driving around the neighborhood to see all the decorations people put on their houses. I always loved getting a glimpse of the old school plastic Santas, Snowmen and the giant bulb Christmas lights that looked like glowing candy. But there was always the house that took their Christmas display to the next level and made the rest of us feel ashamed of our lack of Holiday cheer.

When it looks like Las Vegas landed in their front yard or they stole all the animatronics from Disneyland, you know you’re dealing with a Christmas maniac. My grandma lived next door to one such fanatic and in 1993, with my slim camera in hand, I decided to document his madness. What follows is part 1 of a delightful glimpse back at an extremely Retro Christmas wonderland. Just to give you some perspective, this Christmas wonderland was set up as a walking tour between 2 houses in Southern New Jersey that was so crammed full of stuff, there’s no way my roll of 24 pictures was going to capture it all. 

At the start of the tour, there was a casually dressed Santa with T-Rex arms angrily welcoming us to his home. He seems to be saying, “Make up your mind kid! You comin’ in or not? I got an ulcer the size of a doll’s head, so don’t test me today.” It is unclear what door of Santa’s House we are looking at. With the bannister so prominently in the foreground, it makes me think it’s an upstairs entrance to the master bedroom. Regardless of Santa’s strange architectural preferences, I love the idea that he relaxes by dressing like a Lumberjack the other 364 days of the year.

Next up we have something that could only exist in 1993, a Christmas Troll Doll display. Now there’s no way for you to know this, so let me tell ya, these were BIG freakin’ Trolls. They were like 2 feet tall, at least. But let’s examine this scene, Santa Troll has obviously just delivered the presents and stuck around to see that everyone enjoys them. Then you have the Birthday Troll sitting in a mini-recliner, putting on a brave smile. But we all know kids who have their birthdays on Christmas get ripped off, so she’s about 10 seconds away from a tantrum. Then you have the Don King Troll, which is about the greatest thing I have ever seen. Think about it, this crazy haired boxing promoter was such an ever present figure in the late 80’s and mid 90’s that he was paid tribute to in Troll form. If he accomplished nothing else in his life, he should be proud of that.

You can’t have Christmas without Elves, but according to this next display you can have Elves without pants. Is the mini-skirt on the red-headed elf not disturbing? With all that candy and ice cream around, he could at least do us the courtesy of covering up his tiny nether regions, that’s just unsanitary! Then there’s the lunatic hiding under a sheet, who looks like Dopey from Snow White stepped into Jeff Goldblum’s transporter from The Fly with Harpo Marx and came out as the goofiest looking resident of the North Pole since Droppo from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Sorry, that was a lot of random movie references, but what else are you going to say about an Elf riding a giant LifeSaver?

Moving along we were treated to a free Christmas concert from Alvin and the Chipmunks, who were lip-synching to what back then had to be an audio cassette of the Christmas With The Chipmunks album. Again, these guys were like 3 feet tall which was exciting to me as a child of the 80’s who grew up watching their animated adventures. Mostly because it helped me realize what they would look like “Life-Sized”. 

Playing small-town New Jersey couldn’t have been a big payday for this trio of brothers who used to be on top of the world. Though I’m sure they could have doubled their money playing craps or roulette at Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal in Atlantic City after the gig. But knowing Alvin the way I do, they probably went the Ocean’s 11 route and teamed up with The Chippettes to make one big score while performing a musical number as they evaded the Casino security team. Allllvviiiiin!

OK, we’ll see you in part 2. There’s a whole new batch of pop culture icons who were put on display, just waiting to show you what Happy Holidays really means.

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mickyarber Posted on Dec 19, 2015 at 03:08 PM

Yeah....this dude seemed to be out there a little bit. BUT, it has given me an idea of something to do with a box of old, random, assorted action figures. Maybe I'll do something like this next year. Build a pop culture Christmas party featuring Rambo, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Alf, He-Man, and the rest.

Seems like that would have been a unique evening touring the place. Can't wait to see the rest.

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 15, 2015 at 12:26 PM

Ha! This is so awesome. So these people really set this up in their house and you could tour it? I want to do that!!!

The T-Rex Angry Santa and freaky-deaky tiny pants elf are worth the price of admission alone. Those characters should be somehow enshrined by your old home town. Make it so.

Can't wait to see what other strange and unsettling things were holed up in this house of Christmas horrors. LOL

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