Christmas House of Mt. Pleasant

Carl Sauer and Mary Ann Woodsmall are the Christmas House couple of Mt. Pleasant.

It's nine degrees outside with a windchill factor of near death, but you can feel the heat from the lights while standing in the street taking its picture. People in Mt. Pleasant call it the Christmas House. It's on the north side of town, between Walmart and Highway 34, at the intersection of Jewel Ave. and James St. Clearly visible for motorists buzzing by on the four-lane, it's often mistaken for Mt. Pleasant's Festival of Lights, for which the town is noted. But Mt. Pleasant's Festival of Lights is on the south side of town, on the Old Thresher's Grounds.

Started in 2019, it's a labor of love and community service for Mary Ann Woodsmall and Carl Sauer (pronounced “sour”). They buy and collect new and used Christmas decorations when they go on sale after Christmas. On their vacations down south, in Texas and Florida, Mary Ann will jump on line for the local Buy-Sell-and-Trades. “Wanted: Used Outdoor Christmas Decorations. Especially blow molds.” Mary Ann and Carl will be inundated, and come home with a car load of Christmas cheer.

They usually start around Thanksgiving. This year the weather was mild and perfect for working outdoors. It usually takes about three days to completely set up. People drive by and shout encouragement and ask when the lights will be on. Mary Ann and Carl wave and holler back, “Any day now.”

What's their electric bill? Most of the lights are LED. For the month that the lights are on, it's in the $100 - $150 range—not that bad for as much happiness and joy it brings to so many people. The lights are on timers. They come on around 4:30 pm and go off at midnight.

Mary Ann and Carl try to move decorations around each year so that they're not in the exact same spot as the year before. However, on any given year, if people come by a couple of times, they will see things they didn't see on the first swipe. You can never take it all in on one pass.

Young House Family Services of Burlington dropped off a basket of cookies and goodies with a card signed by the kids. That was nice. People do appreciate the lights and the work that goes into setting up the extraordinary display.

Carl works for Ceco Building Systems in Mt. Pleasant as a draftsperson. He works from home. Mary Ann is retired from Ceco. Does Carl draw all the decorations out before Mary Ann and he go about setting up? No. Part of the fun is just letting their imaginations go on a wild Christmas binge.

They will disassemble and box up before the end of the year. In the summer there will be another vacation and more decoration buying and collecting. If you think this year's display is something to behold for a private residence, wait until next year. Santa won't have any trouble finding Mt. Pleasant.

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, find him on Facebook, email him at, or visit his website at


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