Petaluma Holiday Houses: Teacher Campbell “goes big” for Christmas

Our school’s very own Heather Campbell is not only a sports medicine teacher: she is also the owner of one of the most decorative holiday houses!

Rachel Gauer and Emma Hughes

The Campbell House has upwards of 50k lights surrounding the property. (Photo by Emma Hughes)

One of the most festively decorated holiday houses in Petaluma this season belongs to our school’s sports medicine teacher, Heather Campbell. Located on the west side of Petaluma on 5 Wallenberg Way, the house sits on an easily accessible corner covered in red, white, and blue lights, holiday cut-outs, signs, and more vivid decor. Campbell shares her motives behind her and her husbands’ annual decorations, her new additions to the display, as well as the impacts COVID-19, has had on this years’ decor: 

“I’ve always been big on Christmas. I love Christmas, it’s probably my favorite holiday. And I like to go big. [Our decorations] started when my oldest was about 2 and he is 25 now. It used to just be small like icicle lights and big candy canes and now it just keeps growing. [The decorations] are very similar every year, but this year has been a lot different because we got our entire front yard redone. We had a bunch of brand new plants and I was like, I can’t throw a net over a brand new plant, it’ll kill it. So I got this idea to take tomato cages and turn them upside down and so I’ve turned them upside down and I put them all over the plant to protect the plants and then turn them into Christmas trees and I actually really like it and I’m probably going to keep doing it. But every year it seems like I add more. The day after Christmas I usually go to Walmart and pretty much buy tons and tons and tons of lights on their 50% off sale. We have a shed in our backyard that stores all of our Christmas stuff. So yeah, there’s something new every year. It just depends but the basic, general idea is usually the same,” said Campbell.

Though viewing the lights is evidently a COVID-19-friendly activity, Campbell explains her decision regarding a hands-on portion of the display amidst pandemic fears. 

Decorative cut-outs cover the Campbell house’s lawn. (Photo by Emma Hughes)

“We have a red sleigh in front of our house which people can take pictures in if they want to. I have done tons of research about covid and I know you can’t get covid from touching a surface and the chances are so small for that to happen, but I also respect that everybody has their own comfort level with the disease. So my thought is I’m going to put the sleigh out there and if people are comfortable and want to get out of their car and take a picture, great, but if they don’t, that’s totally okay too. Every time that I’ve been outside people always have their masks on when they’re looking at our lights. It seems like people are being pretty respectful. If I go out to talk to people I always put my mask on, too.” said Campbell.

Though Campbell has chosen to keep the annual sleigh, she and her husband have also made new modifications in hopes of spreading joy despite the recent negative impacts from COVID-19. 

“This year, with how everything is, I feel like everybody could use a little bit of joy and kindness. Throughout the year, my husband makes all the cutouts on our lawn and every year we add at least one. This year, we added a big sign that says #BeKind so that people can remember to be nice to each other. We also bought these letters that say ‘Hope’ and we painted them red because I think people just need to be reminded that what we’re in right now is temporary and it sucks, but if we could just treat each other with kindness then that would make things a lot better for everybody.”

In addition to their new positive displays, Campbell and her husband have also installed a new donation box to their display that directly benefits others:

Campbell’s new holiday sign encourages kindness during the difficult times the pandemic has created this season. (Photo by Rachel Gauer)

“A lot of people do [boxes] for their PG&E bill or whatever but the donations that we collect are going to Una Vida, which is Ms. Moquete’s non-profit. I just think it’s a great organization and I want to help her as much as I can.  I’ve worked with [Moquete] for a long time and we’re really good friends. I created a video and I posted it on I love Petaluma just because I wanted to get more people to come and know that we are collecting money for the nonprofit more than anything else. My husband and I were thinking that because we get a lot of foot traffic by our house that we could put the donation box out there and maybe people will want to throw in a couple of dollars. 

“What I’m finding, though, is that in this world of covid or just in this world in general now very few people carry cash with them. So I had a lot of people reach out and ask about other ways to donate so I’ve just told people they can go directly to the website so hopefully people are donating that way, too,” said Campbell. 

To learn more, go to https://www.una-vida.org/ and click on the orange box labeled Donate to Support Families to donate online.