Autumn and Billy Clakley’s home, known by locals as the 'Christmas House' and located at 869 Fir Lane in Cottonwood Shores, is the 2021 winner of The Picayune Magazine and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune's Christmas Lighting Contest. Courtesy photo
The home known as the “Christmas House” is the 2021 winner of The Picayune Magazine and KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune’s Christmas Lighting Contest.
Located at 869 Fir Lane in Cottonwood Shores, the home is owned by Autumn and Billy Clakley, who have added this latest award to their trophy case. The two are quick to point out, however, that they don’t decorate their home for the accolades.
The real reward is the appreciation of visitors who come to see the holiday setup. A great deal of satisfaction over an appreciative audience came when the Cottonwood Shores Volunteer Fire Department brought 15 children on a hayride as part of its annual Christmas is for Kids party Dec. 18. The couple hosted a gathering with food and treats as the children helped them hand out candy canes to the other hay riders. Even the family’s chocolate Labrador retriever, Otto, participated in his reindeer outfit.
“There are times we don’t tell people we own the house just so we can hear their joy,” Billy Clakley said. “It’s all about the kids.”
“We have kids stop, and they want to go through,” Autumn said. “That’s where we win.”
Married for 21 years, Autumn and Billy have won numerous Christmas lights contests. A neighborhood church awarded them three times about a decade ago.
“That was kind of fun,” Autumn said. “We had neighbors new to the street we’d do Christmas lights fights with.”
Billy said the reason the duo began decorating their home was because of their oldest son, Colton, who is now 21, and their desire to give him a complete Christmas. They also have another son, Tanner, who is 19.
“It was a fun little thing we did,” she said. “As he got older, we added to it. The two gingerbread men we have outside are drawings of our two boys when they were smaller.”
Today, the parents do most of the work, although their sons do help, Billy said. Autumn begins the decorating process during the Thanksgiving break by visiting the family’s Christmas shed that houses the numerous displays, lights, and other knick-knacks.
“(Our sons) help begrudgingly,” she said. “It’s so much work, a lot of planning and organizing. We lay it out in the yard. Sometimes, it’s not so nice because we start bickering. That’s when our neighbors say, ‘It’s Christmas time.’”
Two electric breakers are devoted to the Christmas lights display and are only used during the holidays, Billy said. The couple might pay an additional $40 on their electric bill that is well worth it because of the happiness they see from onlookers.
The breakers are flipped on just before dark and turned off at 10 p.m. The family will begin taking the decorations down right after the new year.
Autumn noted the photos don’t do the property justice.
“I couldn’t fit everything in,” she said. “If people drive by, they’ll see more.”
Billy added that all are welcome.
“We want to thank you for coming by and seeing the place,” he said. “It’s why it’s there.”