It’s a little touch of North Pole in the Santa Clarita Valley, built with love by a local “Santa” and his favorite “elf.”
Crafted almost entirely from wood, the array of Christmas trees dotting Robert Dodge’s front yard in Saugus blends a touch of comedy and creativity with nostalgia and innovation.
There’s a “Land of Misfit Trees,” inspired by the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Claymation TV special of the 1960s, a skinny Santa gleefully grinning on the roof, and a layer of insulation doubling as snow on the ground.
At night, the scene lights up with sparkle balls, large orbs made from clear plastic party cups and colored lights. A sparkly tree and holiday music from Dodge’s neighbor’s house adds to the festivities.
While Dodge and his wife Carol have always loved Christmas, as is evident from the beautiful decorations inside their home, this is the first time their front yard has doubled as a winter wonderland.
Dodge, who retired from the tea and coffee business this year, enjoys working with his hands on projects ranging from constructing patios around the house to remodeling the kitchen and bathroom.
But with a “bad” knee and shoulder, the 67 year old needed a less strenuous outlet.
His kids starting texting him Pinterest photos of handcrafted wooden Christmas trees this summer and Dodge got to work with the help of his 13-year old granddaughter Jenna Espinoza.
“She knows her power tools. Her favorite is the nail gun,” Dodge said proudly.
Using leftover wood gathered from construction sites and pallets from grocery stores, the handy duo started churning out trees with fun themes.
One is festooned with candy canes. The other, Dodge’s favorite, is covered with pine cones cut in half.
“The sugar pine cones came from June Lake and the others were laying around the CVS up the road,” Dodge said with a smile.
Another tree has snowflakes floating across it. “We have a cabin in the Sequoia National Forest and I always liked the trees there,” Dodge said.
Poles were fashioned from PVC pipe, taped in spirals, and spray painted red. Once the tape was removed, voila, candy canes.
Just after Thanksgiving, Dodge spent four days plotting a map for all the artwork. With a plan in place, he and Jenna started laying down the snow and the forest began to take shape.
“Everyone puts up lights,” Dodge said. “We wanted to do something different.”
Since the Dodge home is not on a main street, it has yet to find a large audience.
A neighbor, however, was quick with praise.
“He told me it was phenomenal,” Dodge said. “I’m proud I was able to do it.”
The public is welcome to visit the Dodge home up until Christmas at 27703 Cherry Creek Road in Saugus.
Once the holidays are over, Dodge will auction off the artwork with the help of his daughter, Stacy Espinoza, who plans to showcase the pieces on local “For Sale” sites on Facebook.
Dodge will donate the proceeds to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center and start all over for Christmas 2017.
Besides the joy of building, it’s an opportunity to spend quality time with his granddaughter.
“I can bond with Jenna. I wasn’t able to do that with her older brother, because I was working. Retirement is great,” Dodge said.