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Santa’s helpers invade home

Jim Grant, Tahoe Daily TribuneJonni Wines invites parents to bring their children to her home to see the large collection of Christmas displays.
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Santa would be impressed. But he would have to be patient.

For 11 months, countless boxes cram a one-car garage from floor to ceiling, waiting. Then, after Thanksgiving passes and the calender turns to December, Jonni Wines unleashes the contents of the boxes throughout her avocado-colored house which her husband built 42 years ago.

Plastic figurines flood her home: A mechanical Santa wiggles to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Goofy flails his arms in a never-ending attempt to untangle himself from multi-colored lights. A band of bells plays near the kitchen. A porcelain village, more like a bustling town, lines the living room window sill.



Wines has spent nine years collecting Christmas memorabilia to decorate her house for family members, friends and the preschool children she looks after at her 24-hour day care. This year, she wants to open her door to anybody who would like a dose of Christmas spirit.

“I don’t care if people come in groups or it’s single children,” she said, speaking from under a Santa cap while trying to untangle her own Christmas lights. “If they would like to see a nice collection they’re welcome to come.”



Wines, whose collection runs around $20,000, walked around her holiday house making sure every bell, tune and figure was in working order.

“Come on Santa. You’re supposed to be dancing,” she said to a tired Santa. With a little help, she kept him rockin.’

“Kids don’t leave the nose alone. It’s almost out” she said, fixing the plastic carrot nose on an illuminated snowman near the front door.

“These are all helpers,” she said, pointing to a line of jolly elves with tools in their hands. An elf, with blonde hair and free hands, sat on the edge of the shelf. “I guess he’s just watching,” she said.

Wines grew up during the Depression with a sister and two brothers. Even though her family was poor during those tough times, Christmas was a special holiday for her, she said.

This is the first time in four years she has decorated her house with every decoration she owns. Two exchange students, one from Hong Kong and the other from Germany, helped her deck the walls in the first weekend of December. Crystal Wong, from Hong Kong, took on the task of tree decorating. It took her three attempts, for perfection’s sake, to get it right, Wines said.

Savannah Mournighan, 3, sat watching holiday cartoon movies on a small television near a miniature ice rink and merry-go-round. Christmas music and movies play throughout the day.

“It’s beautiful,” Savannah said about the house.

“Scooby Doo is my favorite,” she said about Christmas cartoons.

Kris Wines, the wife of Jonni’s oldest son J.B., knows Jonni’s house well. She said family members got into the habit of buying her unique decorations for Christmas.

“She’s always been the spirit of Christmas,” Kris Wines said. “She’s always been that way. The inside of her house is musical chimes. The day after Thanksgiving she had everything up. She’s always wanted to have a Santa Claus town.”

Wines’ only rule for visitors is they call before dropping by her holiday house off Kingsbury Grade. She can be jingled at (775) 588-6056.


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