For almost 50 years, Burbank residents Dick and Pam Norton have transformed their house into a winter wonderland for their neighbors and people passing by to enjoy during the holiday season.
There are more than a dozen handmade displays — which include a Ferris wheel, see-saw, train, angels and carousel— that light up and move, hundreds of yards of string lights strung everywhere and numerous stuffed toys placed around the yard. And every night from 6 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 27, the Nortons will turn everything on for all to see.
It takes about a month for the Nortons to pull out all their lights and decorations and organize them on their lawn.
Though there are two inflatable snowmen that they bought “guarding” their driveway, Dick Norton said he built and programmed every display and moving attraction.
The decorating legacy started with him building a “Santa-in-a-Box” for their first holiday display and quickly snowballed into him making a fully-functioning Ferris wheel, a train whose wheels spun around and blew out smoke from its stack, a double-hammer carnival ride and two carousels.
Dick Norton spent his entire work career as an accountant, and even worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury for a while. However, he said he has always been good with building and putting things together and has always been interested in learning how things worked.
“During college, I worked for an electronics company for four years, putting together electronics and controllers,” Dick Norton said. “The Treasury Department sent me out for six months to learn computer programming, so I have in-depth computer knowledge. I was going to be a mechanical engineer before I changed to accounting. I just have an aptitude for dealing with mechanical and electrical stuff.”
This marks the 48th year that the Nortons have undertaken the tough, but rewarding task of setting up all their decorations. However, the longtime residents on the 500 block of North Florence Street were seriously considering discontinuing the annual project after last year.
“I put on our website last year that we were going to stop,” Dick Norton said. “It’s a lot at our age to be doing this, and it’s a ton of work.”
As soon as he updated their holiday website, dicknorton.com/xmas/xmashome.html, he received a flood of emails and comments from local residents and those that have visited the attraction over the years pleading with him to put the decorations up again.
“Once we heard how much it meant to so many people, we looked at each other and said, ‘We can do it,’” Pam Norton said. “It helps keep us young.”
She added that she and her husband recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, adding that if they can reach that milestone, they can reach that same level of accomplishment with their holiday decorations.