By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on December 5, 2021
For Paul and Carla Borzellino of Southern Shores, decorating their home at 16 7th Avenue for Christmas begins early. Usually around Halloween, the boxes piled in the shed and the garage start to come out. Some are filled with sparkling ornaments, lights and decorations, others with Christmas villages. But for the most part, they are filled with the more than 100 holiday inflatables that adorn their yard beginning on Dec. 15.
Over the next few months, their inflatable collection, which expands every year, comes to life in preparation for Dec. 15. Some towering as high as 20 feet, the inflatable winter wonderland features a festive Star Wars cast including Jabba the Hutt, a Santa Claus sailing in the pool, Frozen characters Olaf and Elsa as well as Christmas favorites Frosty, the Grinch and Clark Griswold.
The Borzellinos have been putting on their Christmas show for the past nine years, ever since they retired to Southern Shores from Warrenton, VA. Paul, a retired mental health therapist, and Carla, a retired high school and college guidance counselor, estimate that roughly 100 people a night stroll through the yard from Dec. 15 to Jan. 9 (weather permitting), when the display is open to the public.
And while Paul admits that they did decorate with inflatables back in Warrenton, it wasn’t the magnitude it is now.
“Carla and I have no self-control,” Paul explained on a sunny afternoon in early December as the couple and their friend, Bill Buckwalter, worked diligently setting up their elaborate display. “We just keep buying and buying because we love these things. And we love to see the people love these things.”
When asked what keeps them putting all the time and effort into setting up the display every year, Paul asserted, “For one thing, I get a kick out of these inflatables, the way they come in a little box, and you inflate it and they are these giant things. It’s amazing…I just find it magical.”
For the Borzellinos, their display is a labor of love. Each inflatable has a platform built by Paul. The inflatables are tied to the platforms and bricks are placed on the platforms to protect against windy weather. Paul said several years ago, he had an electrician add three more circuits to the electrical panel near the pool to accommodate all the inflatables. And duct tape has come to the rescue more than once to patch up holes.
Carla estimates that their electric bill jumps by $400 to $500 while the display is up. And while they accept decoration donations, the Borzellinos also take monetary donations for a charitable cause. Last year, the couple put out a collection box to raise money for Toys for Tots. This year, they are partnering with the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research to raise money for its cause.
For the Southern Shores couple, the excitement of setting up the displays and the smiles of the young and young at heart really are what make all the work worth it.
“I love seeing people happy,” Carla asserted, adding that children often gaze in the windows of the elaborate Christmas villages she sets up. Also at the Borzellinos, there are plenty of Christmas cookies and candy canes as well as a corner for children to send letters to Santa, and then thank you cards after Dec. 25.
When asked if he had a favorite inflatable, Paul didn’t take long to decide that the Santa sailing on a boat in the pool is probably his top pick. “It’s a challenge,” he explained, noting that he had to make a snorkel to rig up. “Once he is ready and inflated, he will be floating in the middle of the pool,” he exclaimed.
And even as they worked to set up their holiday inflatables on this early December afternoon, UPS was delivering little boxes with big surprises inside to add to their collection.
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