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SEASON’S RITUAL: RETIRED PLEASANT VIEW MAN PUTS UP CHRISTMAS DISPLAY, SAYS IT MAY BE FOR THE LAST TIME

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Earl Cragun has been saying for years he will put Christmas lights on the house and yard one more time and then he's going to quit.

Then the seasons cycle and the 85-year-old retired cherry farmer, educator and businessman finds himself donning his overalls and making a trek to the garage.There he unpacks string after string of lights and untangles the twisted bits of scrap wire he uses to fasten decorations to the house, shrubs and anything else in the yard not likely to drive away.

The display covering his expansive yard and house has grown so big over the years that he buys replacement bulbs by the gross and budgets an extra $200 to cover the light bill for December.

Cragun started decorating this season in October and finished around the first of December.

The lights sprawl like ivy along the windows and ridges of the two-story house and wind through the branches of all of the trees and shrubs.

The illuminated plastic Santa his oldest daughter gave him and his wife, Mildred, years ago has made so many trips between the porch and the basement that parts of the jolly icon crumble when touched.

Then there's the illuminated manger scene featuring near life-size figures of Joseph, Mary, the Christ child and three onlookers he affectionately refers to as the "wise guys."

Each evening, Christmas music playing on the stereo in the house is piped into the yard as a steady stream of cars slows and stops in front of the house to look at the magnificent electric display.

School bus drivers have planned their routes to pass the house at 1012 W. Pleasant View Drive.

It's safe to say from the collection of cards and letters the Craguns have collected from their mailbox that stopping to see the Cragun Christmas display has become part of many family traditions in the small community north of Ogden.

"I can't even remember just when we first started," Cragun said, but he has a story to tell about each feature of the dis-play.

Cragun's brother, Paul, lived next door until he died in 1985. Both started decorating for Christmas with lights more than 30 years ago, and the displays grew a little each year.

"It got to where we had extension cords running all over the place just to plug them all in," Cragun said.

Then a son-in-law wired the whole display to switches inside the house.

"This may be the last year I put all this up - I just don't know," he said, holding a string of lights and looking toward the house.

But until he does retire the display, the annual notice that this may be the last year he puts up lights will also be part of the decorating tradition.

"When it comes right down to it, I think he'll keep doing it. I hope so," his wife said.