It’s that time of year when people stroll through the town looking at all of the decorated houses. Undoubtedly, their paths will lead them past a house on Palomar Avenue, one of the most lavishly decorated houses in Atascadero.

Suzy Atkinson, owner of Kalifornia Tanz and Day Spa, started laying out strings and organizing lights at the end of October. Generally, the first day after Thanksgiving is when she switches on the lights. The lights stay up until New Year’s day, so there is still time to see them before they are stowed away until the next holiday season.

“When I’m putting them up, most people will either honk or holler ‘I love your house,’” Suzy said.

As one can imagine, the massive amount of lights takes its toll on the electric bill to the tune of $300, but Suzy says that the people coming and enjoying her work is well worth it. She said they call her the “crazy light lady,” but says they still come every year to look at what she has created. Suzy says it’s common for people to ask her about the house decorating long before she starts to think about it.

“There are hundreds of people who come every year and they enjoy it,” Suzy said. “There are so many people who come so I like doing it for that reason.” 

No two holiday seasons are alike, and Suzy enjoys changing things up a little each year. She said she tries to add something new every time and said people notice her effort. This year’s new addition is a wooded Santa and his reindeer mounted on palm trees.

It should come as no surprise Suzy special orders her thousands of twinkling lights. Comparing them to the type that Disneyland uses in its light parade, she said the LEDs she buys are not found at the local box store. Suzy said special ordering lights saves her some money on the electric bill, but it also allows her to custom order the strings to specific lengths. Also, the high-quality lights allow her to connect more strings of lights together than with store-bought ones.

The Palomar Avenue home of Suzy Atkinson is covered in Christmas lights for the holiday season. Photo by Mark Diaz

Suzy’s tradition suffered a drawback two years ago when she fell off the roof and broke her hip in four places. She also received seven stitches in both her elbow and lip. 

“So, I’m not allowed to go up on the roof unless I have another person here; someone to hold the ladder,” Suzy said.

She also suffers from Lupus which causes her a lot of pain in her joints

“I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to do this, but I’m going to keep doing it for as long as I can,” Suzy said.

Over the years people have made it their tradition to come by Suzy’s house. She said people who come and visit family in the area look forward to seeing her light show ever year. One of her favorite pastimes is sitting on her front porch and listening to the children gawk at the extravagant decorations pointing out their favorites to their parents. 

“I just enjoy everybody enjoying them,” Suzy said.

Suzy said that people will cruise by her house before heading to Paso Robles to look at the houses lining Vine Street and then come back and view her house again. She happily recalls  hearing people say, “Vine street’s got nothing on Suzy.”

Getting through this together, Atascadero