December 4, 2013

Santa popular at Plattsburgh home


PLATTSBURGH — A life-size talking Santa Claus, spinning Christmas tree and 12-foot wreath are among the many decorations that adorn Sherman and Jackie Luck’s home, inside and out, every holiday season.

“You haven’t got to be crazy, but it helps,” Mr. Luck, 76, said while examining the wreath that nearly touched the ceiling of the family’s tool shed, waiting to be hung outside.

For nearly 50 years, the Lucks have transformed their home at 145 Broad St. into a Christmas museum of sorts, displaying ornaments and decorations of all shapes, sizes and origins.

Garland is strung along the fence in front of the house, leading to a Christmas-lights-covered mailbox that opens mechanically to reveal a letter to Santa.

A group of reindeer pilots a miniature hot-air balloon in the yard while, farther up, Santa crouches near the bottom of the chimney.

With the flick of a switch, Santa begins to climb, bag of toys in hand. After dark, he is lit by a single spotlight that turns off when he climbs back down, giving the illusion that the mechanical man has dropped down the chimney.


The Lucks have lived there since 1959. They began their decorating tradition in 1965, for their daughter, Nicole, who was 3 that year.

Since then, they have used their frequent travels to add to a growing collection of decorations, whether they landed in Hawaii, Alaska, St. Louis or Massachusetts.

Along the way, the Lucks have made it a habit to always stop at one particular destination.

“Every time I see a Christmas shop, I’m in there,” Mr. Luck said.

It was while visiting Marlborough, Mass., in 1998 that he found one of his favorite Christmas decorations: a set of Huey, Dewey, Louie and Donald Duck tree ornaments. The four-piece set cost nearly $1,000, but Mr. Luck said he appreciates the value in owning collector-item ornaments.

“You can’t get them today,” he said.

Along with the designer ornaments, including a crystal orb bought at Tiffany’s in New York City, their tree contains a number of handmade ornaments. 

“A lot of them, my grandchildren did when they were little,” Mrs. Luck, 77, said.


Though the couple’s daughters, Cherie Brault and Nicole Kivlehan, have since gone on to marry and have children of their own, Christmas decorating remains a family affair.

Mr. Luck tests all the electronic decorations in mid October, then the family begins decorating when they gather for Thanksgiving.

As many as 40 friends and family members turn out for a party a week later to install the giant wreath and officially turn on the decorations.

The electronic adornments include a Santa Claus that mechanically writes his naughty or nice list, one that dances across the floor with Mrs. Claus and a life-size St. Nick that moves its lips to sing Christmas songs. 

That one also matches the lip movements of anyone who sings into an attached microphone.

“My great-granddaughter is scared of it,” Mr. Luck said.

He doesn’t have any new projects in mind but is always checking out other Christmas displays for inspiration.

“If you drive along and see something, you say, ‘Well, I can do something a little different than that.’”