During his nine years in Keller, Ed Speakmon has been earning a reputation and a nickname as “Mr. Christmas” that comes from a serious penchant for demonstrating holiday cheer with his outdoor decor. Each year, he maps out ever-growing ways of decking the halls — decorating the trees, lawn, driveway, eaves, roof and windows. And that’s just for starters.
Inside, nothing escapes adornment either — not the bedrooms, bookshelves, chandeliers, patio nor master bath. He decorates pretty much every nook and cranny of his house and yard.
It all started in the early ’80s, when he lived in Arlington. He’d always enjoyed Christmas and saw his neighbors’ yard displays and thought, “I can do this.” As the years passed, he collected more Christmas items and began making many of his own outdoor decorations, crafting wooden cutouts of reindeer and elves with power tools and paint in his garage. He builds illuminated tree shapes from rebar and tomato cages, and twists hundreds of lights around trees and along the roofline of his home on Briar Meadow.
Although his wife, Candy, doesn’t help construct displays, she enjoys the yuletide decor as well, and he says she gives him ideas from Pinterest. In the last few years, his displays have become more elaborate, he says, because he retired after 40 years in the automotive repair business.
“I enjoy it even more now,” he says.
When he’s dressing his home in its holiday finery, he spends 8-10 hours a day for a week setting up his displays. And neighbors say his spirited exhibits aren’t exclusive to Christmas, either. He also does it up big for Halloween, Easter and Memorial Day.
“He’s Mr. Christmas, Mr. Halloween, Mr. Everything,” says neighbor Chuck Haley.
Spreading the Wealth
Mr. Christmas doesn’t stop decorating at the edge of his property. He also trims the neighborhood pond in twinkling lights and Santa scenes, then spreads cheer around Williamsburg Estates and The Conservatory at Keller Town Center, a senior living community. For about 20 years, he’s also been brightening the holiday season at the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Worth, setting up little villages, using fluffy faux snow and lights to make everything merry.
The Ronald McDonald House provides temporary housing for families with critically ill children in nearby hospitals. Nancy Jeter, development manager, says Speakmon’s holiday displays there set a welcoming mood and help families feel less isolated during hard times.
“He wants to make sure our families feel at home, and he has that special touch,” she says.
The Inside Scoop
Some folks who have enjoyed Speakmon’s yard displays through the years might be surprised to hear that he’s got as much going on indoors. Then again, maybe not.
Model trains speed along tracks swirling overhead and spanning several rooms. They start their eye-catching journeys just above the front door. A large tree aglow with twinkling lights fills one front window in the dining room, while another window frames a life-size Santa who greets visitors with a wave and a jolly “Merry Christmas!” Chandeliers are draped with lights, greenery and jeweled ornaments.
On almost every surface in the home he has winter village scenes and figurines. His favorites are the Department 56 North Pole Village, Snow Village, Snowbabies and Winter Silhouettes. He does a breathtaking display of the white figurines from Winter Silhouettes in his master bath.
Who’s there to enjoy all the fa la la finery? Every year, Speakmon hosts a by-invitation-only open house for 200 or more of his closest friends, allowing guests to explore his house and enjoy refreshments at an outdoor bar overlooking the Nativity display he puts up on the other side of the pond.
Sometimes, he invites in strolling neighbors when the mood strikes. “A lot of people here walk in the evenings at Christmas,” he says.
His favorite audience is family. His three grown children visit frequently and his three grandkids (ages 5, 9 and 20) seem especially appreciative of visits to “Pop Pop’s” house at Christmastime.
Speakmon has built special decorations for each of his children and given them village pieces to start their own collections. One of these days, he says his kids “are going to have the pick of the litter” when the decorating becomes too much for him. But, for now — still going strong at age 66 — it’s clear he relishes his role as Keller’s Mr. Christmas.
“It’s just the love of it,” he says. “I enjoy people coming to see it. It’s my way giving something back to the community.”
Neighborhood Cheer Leaders
A year after moving to Keller, Speakmon entered the Keller Parks and Recreation Department’s Holiday Yard Decorating Contest. Every year since then, he has won either first place or “Best in Theme.” Last year, 524 votes were cast in a new People’s Choice category and, yup, Speakmon’s home came out on top.
Now in its 27th year, the contest draws 20 to 25 participants annually. This year’s theme is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
Other residents on Speakmon’s street don’t even try to compete with him, neighbor Chuck Haley says, although many of them do attractive displays of their own.
Only Frank Keller, a spirited soul who lives a block and a half away on Highland Lakes Drive, has been known to give Speakmon’s exterior displays a run for the money. Specializing in lights synchronized to music and three-dimensional, often robotic, figures, Keller plays music outside his house that can be accessed by radio in cars nearby. There’s so much traffic during the holiday season that he meters the music for breaks every three minutes and turns off the display around 9:30 during the week to keep from bugging the neighbors.
One of Keller’s favorite features is a large movie screen playing a holiday film in his front yard. On certain nights, he invites neighborhood kids over for a movie and popcorn. He also has a donation box in front of his house to benefit the Keller Animal Shelter. Visitors can donate cash, food, toys and blankets.
Most years, Speakmon and Keller both grab top spots in the holiday lighting contest. Both men have large storage units where they keep most of their holiday decor during the off-season, and, of course, Speakmon has storage sections for Halloween, Memorial Day and Easter, too.
“We compete against each other every year,” Keller says of the Christmas displays. “We keep everything secret, and we always try to sneak around. He’ll come by when I’m setting up, and I’ll go over there and try to figure out what he’s doing.”