LA PALMA : Dad's the Artist, but Mom Takes the Prize

The colorfully decorated house at 5072 Cottonwood Lane looks like a scene from an outdoor Toyland, with animated skating penguins and teddy bears on a ski lift.

Passersby are not surprised to learn that the top-prize-winning home is owned by professional toy sculptor Richard B. Hasenstab. What may surprise them, however, is to learn that the intricate decorations are the work of Hasenstab's wife, Donna.

"Her occupation is housewife, but she's the one with all the talent," Richard Hasenstab said. "She comes up with the themes and ideas. I'm just a gofer."

The Hasenstabs' home this week was cited as "most spectacular overall" in the city's annual holiday decorating contest. Prize winners were honored at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

The Hasenstabs have taken the top prize in four of the five years that they have entered the contest.

"We decorate every year because we like to make it special for the kids," Donna Hasenstab said. "We've got three grown daughters, four grandchildren and another on the way. They all help us put it together."

This year's theme at the Hasenstab home is Winter Wonderland. "We started work on it the day after Thanksgiving, and it took us about three weeks," Donna Hasenstab said. "We never do the same decorations" two years in a row.

She said the family improvises to come up with ways to animate the decorations. "I used a motor from the barbecue rotisserie for the ski lift," she confided.

Richard Hasenstab sculpts toys for companies such as Mattel. His recent creations have included a play set based on the popular film "The Lion King." When it comes to the holiday decorations, though, he takes the back seat and lets his wife steer.

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