Artsy homes for the holidays

Decorating is an artform and it’s on full display during the holidays.

So we talked with a few homeowners around Des Moines who have a bright holiday spirit…literally.

Like Chris Cyran in Beaverdale.

He decorates his yard and home with over 20 lawn ornaments and inflatables. Then he covers it with lights using over 100 extension cords. It’s one of the brightest homes just off Ashby Avenue—a neighborhood known for holiday decorations—and has been for the last six years.

“My wife buys them, I put them up, and thank God we have a big basement,” Cyran says. “I love to create and build things. Never is it the same each year.”

He starts the day after Thanksgiving, where he has to first take down his inflatable turkeys.

“We celebrate every season with something,” Cyran says.

Living on ‘Candycane Lane’

Ashby Avenue Lights
The candy canes on Ashby Avenue in Beaverdale are made from PVC pipe and tape. The entire street is decorated and illuminated starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Legend has it that a tradition started over 20 years ago with a few homeowners on Ashby Avenue in Beaverdale decorating their homes during the holidays when their grandchildren would come visit.

Then three years ago Tyler Koontz bought a house on Ashby Avenue and learned that tradition spread to more than a few homes; now it’s the whole neighborhood that’s lit during December.

Lights go up the Saturday after Thanksgiving during a neighborhood block party, Koontz says and will stay up until New Years. And on Christmas Eve Ashby Avenue is lined with luminaries with candle lights.

“It’s cool…everyone goes all out,” Koontz says. “Our side and that side are very well known, there are awards that go out for the top design. There are houses that have lights going to music.”

“We’re Candy Cane lane on this side of Ashby and on the other side, they make us look weak,” Koontz says laughing. “We have limos, party buses every Friday, Saturday, Sunday night. It’s impossible to get home.”

An inflatable Jurassic Park

Christmas Inflatables
A pair of the five inflatable dinosaurs Amanda and Kristin Ackerman own.

What do dinosaurs have to do with Christmas?

That’s a question Amanda and Kristin Ackerman hear a lot because of the five inflatable dinosaurs in their front and back yards. Then there’s the inflatable nutcracker, pirate ship and tilt-o-whirl.

And a 20-foot inflatable snowman and Santa are in the backyard because they don’t do well with wind.

“They are fun and different,” Kristin says. “Also a real eye catcher and they just stand out more than one strand of lights.”

Kristin says it takes her and her sister a few hours to set them up and they occasionally adjust them.

“I usually put the dragon in the back, she oversees the dinosaurs, she’s like their leader,” Amanda says. “People slow down and take pictures.”

This is the third year for the, “Dinosaur Garden” and the collection grows each year. Amanda said she’s already ordered two Seattle Seahawk-themed inflatables for next season.

For more…

For specific locations to decorated homes across Central Iowa, visit