Randy Peck of Riverton describes himself as Mr. Christmas.He loves everything about the holiday and started setting up a Christmas village under his tree the year he married his wife Diane. The couple has been married for 35 years now, and the village has expanded to fill about a quarter of his rather sizable living room.
Peck said he can’t begin to estimate exactly how many pieces he possesses. His village this year takes up about three 10-foot-long folding tables, and Peck insists that this is the least amount of pieces he’s ever used. Due to a deer hunt and an anniversary trip to Las Vegas, Peck is a little behind this year, so he decided to shrink his display down a bit.
“I probably have the amount that’s out this year times about five; it’s sick,” he said.
Peck’s grandmother and mother played an important role in fostering his love for all the holidays, but Christmas is especially important to him.
“My grandmother on my mom’s side had a village as well as my mother, and I always loved, as a kid, going to my grandmother’s house, lying down and looking at the village,” Peck said.
His grandmother and mother’s villages weren’t nearly as grand as his, but Peck does hold onto a few pieces that used to be theirs. Due to how precious they are to him, and partly due to his 11 grandchildren and their roaming fingers, he keeps most of the really important pieces locked away in a safe even during the holidays.
“I loved it, so I wanted to carry on the tradition of my grandmother and my mom. I was the only child [in my family] that did this, and when my mom died, all I asked for were her village pieces,” Peck said.
Randy Peck’s Christmas village display started because both his grandmother and mother had one. However, his village is much grander. This year it fills three 10-foot-long folding tables, which is about a quarter of his living room. Photos courtesy of dbaphotography.com.
Peck began setting up the village the day after Halloween. It took him about two weeks to complete it.
“He works on it usually a few hours a night for that two weeks. It’s after work and sometimes late into the night, like I’m usually asleep by the time he comes to bed,” Diane Peck said.
The pieces that weren’t passed down to Randy Peck come from after-Christmas sales, vacations and gifts. Peck shops year round for village pieces.
“Wherever we go, whatever we do, Randy will always venture off and look for them,” Diane Peck said.
“It doesn’t matter what day it is—it could be in July,” Remington Peck, their youngest son, said.
However, not just any old piece will work in the village. Peck likes the pieces to tell a story and have meaning.
“We like to do it around themes of what we do as a family,” Peck said. “The different scenes are related to vacations, experiences and traditions.”
For example, in the village this year, there is a prominent Statue of Liberty piece, which the family bought right after the events on Sept. 11, 2011. The piece is special to Peck, so this is only about the third year he’s dared to display it. However, he felt that he had to because the Pecks traveled to New York this year as a family.
Although it changes every year, a Temple Square scene has become a staple for the village, as well as a manger scene.
“We always do a Temple Square scene because every year we like to see the square and the lights. Also, that’s where we were married,” Peck said.
There is also a “Nutcracker” ballet scene, which returns every year as well. When their oldest daughter Laurie was born on Dec. 22, they wanted to create a special tradition in her honor, so Diane decided to take her to “The Nutcracker” at the Capitol Theater each Christmas.
After the birth of her other daughters, Courtney and Lexi, and after their sons Riley and Reagan got married, Diane decided to expand the tradition to include all the girls in the family.
“Well, we used to go to Capitol Theater until it got so many of us, and then it got too expensive. This year, we’re going to go to the Perry Theatre in Ogden. It just is really fun for us,” Diane Peck said.
Peck’s village isn’t as well known throughout his neighborhood as his elaborate Christmas lights display. However, they do have families from the neighborhood come over to their house—usually on Monday for family home evenings.
“We mostly started because we like to have an excuse for all our kids to be here for the holidays, and now they do. And they bring their extended families,” Peck said. A Display Worthy Of The Griswold Name
Randy Peck’s Christmas lights display started as a challenge from his kids to beat Griswold from the movie ‘Christmas Vacation,’ in which Clark Griswold installs about 25,000 lights.
This family takes challenges very seriously, so Peck brought out all the lights he had in his basement. Last year, he put out around 33,000, and this year he hopes to get to 40,000 lights on his house and in his yard. If he reaches his goal, then there will be over a thousand feet of cords.
Peck started putting out lights on Oct. 1 and turned them on the day before Thanksgiving.
“This year, we’re going to give out candy canes every Monday night for people who drive by,” he said.
In the past, the family has had to work together to remember to turn the lights on every night from about 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. However, this year they have the lights on timers.
Peck is also using all LED lights this year. Since they’re more energy efficient, the family’s electrical bill hasn’t been as high as in previous years.
In response to the Pecks’ lights display, last year the neighbors on either side of the brightly lit house just put up signs that said, “Ditto,” with arrows pointing to the “Griswold house.”
The Peck house is at 3035 West LaStrada Way (12775 South) in Riverton.