Ed Berkner of Sleepy Eye could easily be called Mr. Christmas.
Every year, for the past 50 years, Ed has set about diligently decorating the trees, fountains, arches, bushes and small tool sheds on his yard in thousands of Christmas lights.
“When I was a kid my mom always decorated, and I started putting lights on our house,” Ed said of his beginnings in decorating with Christmas lights. “Not to the extent that I go to now, but we always decorated.”
Ed says he does it mostly for himself and for his family.
“I love them. They are pretty to me. I could sit out here and watch the lights all night long,” Ed added.
He decorates seven of the trees in his yard with three homemade sticks he’s manufactured to reach high into the trees. The sticks measure 12, 16 and 20 feet. He says he starts generally a couple of weeks before Christmas and Santa’s helpers, his hired hand, Jason Ludewig, who has been with Ed since he was 16, and his wife, Colleen, help get the yard in shape for Christmas.
“You have to have Christmas lights, otherwise you are a scrooge!” Ed said laughing. “Christmas is a magical time of year.”
Ed’s love of decorating has also turned into somewhat of a competition between him and two of his offspring. However, the rules are, that to put the lights in the tree, a boom truck is not allowed. Ed found out one year one of the kids used a boom truck to hang his lights.
“He was disqualified after that,” Ed said with a chuckle.
While Ed has enough lights on his rural farm yard to get some teasing from nearby neighbors about the cost of electricity, it doesn’t stop him from looking for places to add more.
He’s been spotted in local businesses this year already scouting out his sale purchases for next year’s display.
“It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work, but it sure is pretty when it’s done,” Ed added.