FROM THE TIME he was a boy, Richard Felt of Brigham City has ignored those warning labels that read: Do Not Try This at Home.

Whether constructing a bewitching spook alley or cobbling together the most popular holiday display in Box Elder County, Felt believes that home is where the laboratory is."We've been doing Disney characters at Christmas for about 15 years now," he says. "I started years ago by decorating my dad's home. Pretty soon I was painting windows. When I did the big Mickey Mouse, a few people came by. The next year I added Snow White and a few more came. Then a person turned to me in the theater after we'd seen `Aladdin' and asked if Aladdin would be on display. I'm kind of a slave to it now."

A slave maybe, but a slave who whistles while he works.

As a shop teacher at Box Elder Junior High School, Felt has both the know-how and the access to tools. He mixes his own paints, projects the images on giant slats of plywood, then sets to work - using flat paint so the figures won't glare in the headlights. He is meticulous - out of respect for Walt. And his precision has not only earned him praise, it has earned him a cul-de-sac full of visitors. He counted 100 cars in just 60 minutes earlier this year. When a new neighbor moved into the home next door recently, Felt greeted him with a hardy "Hope you like Christmas!"

"Just the other day a teacher from the junior high brought his grandkids by, then told them they'd been to Disneyland," Felt says. "He's kind of a tightwad."

The front lawn gallery currently features 67 characters. When Richard's wife, Linda, told him her grade-school class was anxious to see "The Lion King," Felt went right to work. Belle and the Beast were built as a response to popular demand. Pocahontas is on the drawing board.

"Some of the teenage boys wish I'd left the sweater off Ariel, the Little Mermaid," he says. "But I'm afraid she'd freeze without it."

Since Felt doesn't charge to see the display and he never sells his work, he figures the Disney people will leave him alone. ("Just don't tell them!")

Yet even Scrooge McDuck would wince at closing things down at Christmas. The tears would fill Splash Mountain. The display is treated with such reverence, in fact, that there's never been any vandalism or trespassing.

"A couple of years ago somebody stole two of my spotlights," Felt says. "But I guess his conscience got to him because he put them back the next day."

The project is also destined to live on into the 21st century. Josh Felt, Richard's son, is already taking a major interest - though he may slant things toward Looney Tunes. And the Felts are even toying with the idea of creating a Disney Halloween Spook Alley featuring an all Disney cast of villains.

Richard Felt may be a teacher, actor, artist and religious leader, but his legacy could well be as "The Disney Man."

He may even end up with a Disney character on his headstone.

"If they carve one there," he says, "I'm sure it will be Goofy."



How to get there

The Felts live at 629 Cottonwood in Brigham City. The best route there is to drive along 600 East. You'll see Cottonwood on the east side between 100 and 200 South. The Felts plan to keep the display in place until Jan. 2.