Even on the cloudiest winter days, Sherry DeWall’s modest Philomath home on North 19th Street shines bright with decorations for the holidays.
Leading up to major holidays, DeWall’s front yard draws a lot of attention through creative displays, which often include inflatables.
Those driving or walking by her place — which is located just north of Dairy Queen — can currently see her Valentine’s Day display. DeWall also decorates for New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
While DeWall loves all holidays, she said with a smile, “Halloween is, by far, my favorite.”
DeWall spends the entire month of October decorating her front yard, culminating in the big night on Oct. 31. Each year’s Halloween display has a theme.
“Last year it was scarecrows,” she said. “My theme for Halloween 2023 has already been picked out, including my costume.”
Her house is a must-see stop for trick-or-treaters and those who stop by receive a bag filled with treats.
“I hand out really good candy, including chocolate bars, to the children and also the parents,” she said. “To me, Halloween is not just for kids.”
DeWall reminds folks not to wait until the day after a holiday to stop by because she takes down the display by the next morning. The inflatables and other decorations pack up nicely in a backyard shed.
Also, don’t expect to see the same displays each holiday.
“I make each one better every year,” she said, adding that she is always working to make improvements. “I am retired, and the yard decorating gives me a chance to express my creativity.”
Friends and fellow Philomath residents sometimes donate items to her expanding collection. When a piece is deemed as no longer needed in her holiday rotation, she passes on the nicer pieces to the Salvation Army or gives them to another local resident looking to add to their display.
DeWall is a lifelong Oregonian, growing up off Highway 20 in Albany and she said her ancestors founded the Linn County community of Crabtree. While living in a Lebanon apartment in 2010, her roommate died, and she was looking for a new place to stay.
That’s when her longtime boyfriend Michael Cathcart suggested that she move into his place in Philomath. Soon after moving to town, DeWall began decorating the front yard for the holidays.
“When I lived in apartments, I never was able to decorate outdoors, so I jumped at the opportunity provided at my new place in Philomath,” DeWall said.
For the past 13 years, DeWall’s decorative yards have brightened her neighborhood. There was one year, however, when the decorations were not put up.
“That was the year my sister died,” DeWall said. “There were several people who missed seeing them, so I went right back putting them up.”
Speaking of Cathcart, those who look closely this week at the front yard will notice an inflatable birthday cake alongside the red Valentine’s Day hearts. Cathcart will celebrate his 70th birthday on Feb. 14.
DeWall said that she gets a lot of joy from all of those who take the time to drive or walk by to just see her decorations.
“All age groups come by — from youngsters to senior citizens,” she said.
Many express their appreciation by giving DeWall a wave, having a big smile on their face or giving a kindly toot of their car horn. On occasion, she will receive a thank-you card either through the mail or hand-delivered.
“I have even gotten several gift certificates over the years,” DeWall added.
DeWall hopes the displays are having a bit of an impact in the community.
“Each year, I am seeing more front yards decorated for the holidays,” she said. “I hope people continue to celebrate the holidays like we used to.”
DeWall said she’s thankful for the community’s positive response.
“This project helps bring out my inner child,” she said, “and I hope it continues to bring joy to others.”