December 21, 2011

Plattsburgh man lights up when talking holidays

'I think I have inspired others to decorate'


PLATTSBURGH — For seven years, Roy Nagle has strung lights, erected lawn ornaments and set his neighborhood ablaze with Christmas spirit.

This winter is no exception.

Set back from Cumberland Avenue, slightly concealed behind a row of mature white cedars, is a holiday spectacle that should not be missed. In front of a blue, two-story home, there are polar bears that sparkle like a fresh snowfall on a sunny afternoon, blue and white light bulbs whose glow can permeate the blackest of nights, angels ready to take flight at any moment and winter deer that seem to prance forth from the frozen ground on spring-loaded legs.

And it's all put together by one man.

Nagle, a native of Burnham-on-Crouch, England, begins setting up the festive exhibit a few weeks before Thanksgiving. When he's finished, there are upwards of 50,000 lights and countless yards of extension cord draped over and around the bushes and ornaments on his front lawn, and a plastic wrapped fountain that, from the road, looks just like a well-adorned Christmas tree.


But Nagle doesn't decorate to be flashy. He has loved Christmas since he was a child, and feels that his holiday cheer has spread throughout the neighborhood.

"I think I have inspired others to decorate," he said. "Since I started, everyone here has seemed to kick it up a notch."

There might be something to Nagle's assessment. Many of the homes in the area are also bedecked.

And as he stood on his front stoop, pointing out the various nuances of his work, several vehicles took pause in front of his house, seemingly in awe of the display.

Nagle said some enjoy it so much they take the time to tell him so.

And once, he said, the praise came in the form of song.

"One night the doorbell rang, and there was a group of carolers there," he said. "After they sang, I reached into my pocket to give them money, and they said, 'No, we just wanted to say thank you.'"


Since moving to Plattsburgh seven years ago, Nagle has done more to be a part of the community than garnish his lawn when the days turn short.

He is currently the chief of staff for Simply Clinton, a program striving to raise $7.5 million to revamp Clinton Community College's library, is helping to raise money for the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum and is donating funds to help cover the cost of repainting the Kent-Delord House Museum just around the corner from his home.

"That's what I do," Nagle said. "I'm a mover and a shaker, I'm good at fundraising. It's amazing how generous people are."

When Nagle isn't moving and shaking during the holiday season, he's busy maintaining his electrified Christmas cheer.

"With the storms we get, especially being on the lake, it's hard to get the ornaments to stand up," he said. "I recently started using tent stakes, and haven't had a problem."


Before moving to the North Country, Nagle lived in California, where he worked on Rodeo Drive. It always felt like summer there, but he found it crowded, and the people barely spoke to each other.

The citizens of Plattsburgh, he said, do nothing to emulate the region's colder climate.

"I love it here," Nagle said. "The people are just so warm and friendly."