Jet Completes Front Yard Christmas Display With PM-Gulf-US Forces, Bjt
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ Bud Stanley’s front yard is decorated like a desert this holiday season - the Saudi Arabian desert, to be exact.
While neighbors put Santa Claus on the roof and a nativity scene or menorah in the front yard, Stanley created a Desert Shield Christmas to honor the men and women stationed in Saudi Arabia.
Stanley’s yard is in Tulare, about 50 miles south of Fresno in central California. It has holiday lights, reindeer and other traditional decorations. But they’re scattered among sand dunes, palm trees, a camouflaged Jeep and military pup tents - even fatigues hanging on a line.
And, of course, a jet.
An actual A-4 jet loaned by nearby Lemoore Naval Air Station is the finishing touch on Stanley’s holiday tribute to the soldiers involved in Desert Shield. Stanley has even created a realistic-looking runway, complete with blinking blue running lights.
″It turned out pretty good,″ said the 20-year-old, who has created extravagant displays every Christmas since 1986. ″But I didn’t expect it to go this far, frankly.″
Stanley, who lives with his parents, helps run the family’s chain of convenience stores. He said he did the display to honor soldiers taking part in Desert Shield, especially his friend, Corey Kuykendall, on active duty with a tank division in Saudi Arabia.
″It’s to show the men and women out there that we love them,″ he said. ″We want them to have a good Christmas.″
Stanley began working on the display the day after Thanksgiving and put in over 150 hours before it was complete.
″Once the idea of a display in honor of the troops in Saudi Arabia was decided upon, the display took off,″ Stanley said in a telephone interview. The chief of police told him about a sergeant who wanted to loan him pup tents and other military regalia.
″He asked me if I wanted an A-4 fighter and I said ‘No way 3/8’,″ Stanley recalled. ″It really blew my mind.″
Navy officials loaned a stripped-down fighter jet frequently used for parade floats.
″I think it was a good thing to do,″ said Lemoore spokesman Dennis McGrath. ″We thought about Desert Shield and it being Christmas season, we decided: What the heck, let’s do it.″
McGrath said the jet’s engine and hydraulic system were pulled, and the only real concern was security. Police officers in this San Joaquin Valley community 150 miles north of Los Angeles agreed to keep a constant watch over the jet.
By the end of the season, the display will cost Stanley between $1,000 and $1,500 in electricity bills alone. However, all the equipment and displays are on loan. Even the full team of reindeer was donated by an archery club.
Out of the roughly 1,000 people who visit the display ever night, several stop to thank him.
″We have had some ladies and men drop by to tell us that they have a husband or wife over there, and they thank us,″ he said. ″But this is all to thank them.″