A holly jolly house – Albuquerque Journal

She didn’t want to do it.

For most of the years since 1970, when his family moved into the Monroe Street house, the Ifversen have gone all out with Christmas lights, drawing on the skills of Roy Ifversen as an electrician and Carol Ifversen. as a Christmas craftswoman.

“We love Christmas,” said Carol, who for years dressed up as Jingles the Elf to greet the crowds that flocked to their light show each December. “It was such a fun thing to do.”

Each year, the display grew, thousands of lights and animatronics, dozens of Santa Claus, snowmen and reindeer. Some time after Roy’s death in 1998, his son Leo Frechette began donning a Santa costume every night, begging the children to pick a candy cane from a tree and share their wish lists for what they wanted for Christmas.

It was a happy time.

The Ifversen House on Monroe Road features a path through thousands of festive lights, holiday entertainment, and an expansive diorama of the city of Albuquerque. Most nights, Santa Claus also greets visitors. (Roberto E Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

You have to admire people like them who go out of their way, to hell with electric bills, to enlighten spirits with their bright lights and large holiday screens.

Albuquerque is full of them, as evidenced by the Albuquerque Area Holiday Lights Tour, a Facebook page featuring a map of the best vacation home exhibits created last year by Jared Trujillo, another local vacation enthusiast whose love of lights takes hold. life every Christmas. .

The Ifversen house on Monroe north of Lomas NE is among those on the map, although Carol Ifversen doesn’t know it until I mention it.

“I guess that means someone really enjoys what we’re doing,” she said.

But what the map doesn’t convey, what sets the Ifversen display apart from the rest of Albuquerque’s fantastic lights, is Albuquerque – in miniature.

Here it is, from the Sandia Peak ski area to the Old Town Lookout, a diorama of our town made from every material Ifversen could reinvent – a styrofoam block for the old 17-story building of the First National Bank, a wooden barn for the Frontier Restaurant.

“I buy something and do with it what I want it to be,” she said. “The Presbyterian hospital is part of a plastic building from an oar. I just wrote Presbyterian on it and voila.

Ifversen started creating his city years ago on a ping-pong table in a garage that has been turned into a playroom. Eventually, the city grew too big for the ping-pong table to fill the room.

“It only grew and grew and grew,” said Ifversen, as if the construction boom was something independent of its own whims.

Hot air balloons, some made by students from the nearby Zia Primary School, hung in the blue-draped sky above the landscape. A large window installed at the front of the room gave visitors a good overview.

Then, one day, everything disappeared.

“We just didn’t want to do it anymore,” said Ifversen. “It’s a lot of work and we are getting older.

Christmas has darkened in this part of Monroe Street. But people haven’t forgotten Ifversen and his son.

One day, Ifversen said that she and her son were browsing for items at a real estate sale at a house on their street when a little boy with his parents came over to them.

“I know who you are!” she remembers the little boy exclaiming. “You are Jingles the elf and he is Santa Claus!” “

A few minutes later, another child happily recognized them. And then another.

CaroI Ifversen began creating his Albuquerque cityscape years ago, using a variety of items, such as styrofoam and model train accessories. One day, she hopes to donate the collection to an Albuquerque entity. (Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

Well, they knew what they had to do.

“So we discussed it and decided to bring Christmas and Albuquerque back,” Ifversen said. “But, if we did, the decision was that once we got the city display up, it would never fall off until we took it down for good.”

They also decided that they would install the Christmas lights and all the trimmings for another four years.

It was five or six years ago.

This year, they’ve added ornaments to the barley sugar tree so that visiting kids can not only grab a sweet treat, but also a small ball as a gift from the Monroe Street house.

Leo plans to play Santa Claus every night until Christmas Eve. But Ifversen has said she has no plans to reprise her role as Jingles the Elf. She is 79 years old and her back pain makes it difficult to put on her elf costume.

“I’m just Jingles the woman of the house now,” she said.

Every night after sunset, she flicks a switch and the screen comes alive. Both love to chat with passers-by, especially children and those who marvel at the city she has built.

It’s unclear how long they plan to keep bringing back their display – or if this year will be their last.

“We didn’t say that,” Ifversen said. “Again.”

Someday, she said, she would like to donate her cityscape to a local entity – a museum, perhaps. A company. Town hall. But it must be somewhere in Albuquerque, she said. Which makes sense.

And, yes, Ifversen took a bit of artistic license in creating his Albuquerque, parts of town looking more like a Victorian village, Central Avenue to a winding road on a snow-capped hill.

And how to explain the Leaning Tower of Pisa not far from the restaurant and the bar of the fire station of Monte Vista.

And then there’s the angels, big as a church, hovering over this little town. That extra touch, however, looks just about perfect.

UpFront is a front page news and opinion column. Contact Joline at 730-2793, [email protected]

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