A Rose-y winter palace in Columbia

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The Rose family poses among their kingdom of lights in downtown Columbia. Pictured, from left, are Emily, Victoria, Kyle, Taylor and Scott.
The Rose family poses among their kingdom of lights in downtown Columbia. Pictured, from left, are Emily, Victoria, Kyle, Taylor and Scott.

The Rose House in Columbia is known as a local winter wonderland, with families driving and walking by every night to get a glimpse of the family’s decadent display. 

With every look, there seems to be more features unseen before. 

Nearly every inch of the residence and its surrounding yard, located at the corner of East Legion and North Metter streets across from Columbia Public Library, is covered with lights – including candy cane rows, animals lining the side walkway, santas, snowmen, mythical creatures and, of course, thousands of string lights. 

While the Roses have made their holiday display a long-standing fixture in the community, it was not always this large. 

“It started about 16 years ago. We just did the porch. We added a little bit more each year, and in the last four to five years we really piled it on,” Scott Rose said. 

Rose’s career as an electrician, coupled with the house’s character, naturally made it the perfect winter palace. 

The house itself is over 100 years old, with many maple trees surrounding it being the same age. A large, wrap-around porch not only provides a spot to hang lights, but to also show off larger lighted animals and more. Even the backyard is decked out, with illuminated pathways and lighted arbors. 

“The landscaping and the whole setting helps,” Rose said. “I think it differentiates it a lot, so I have a lot to work with in the situation.” 

Often taking advantage of end-of-season sales on Christmas lights, the Roses ensure there is something new to see year after year. 

“It just kind of grows on itself over the years,” Rose said. “We try to get a little bigger each year.” 

Like everybody else, Rose has his favorite part: the porch. 

This year, the porch alone boasts reindeer, a sleigh, unicorn, carousel horse, full-sized dog, snowman, multiple 6-foot-tall soldiers and two 5-foot-tall lions guarding the front door. 

“I think everything on the porch kind of sets it off,” he said. “That’s probably my favorite. It’s one of the easier things that really lights it up.” 

The process of setting up this massive display starts well before winter begins. 

Rose said he and his family typically begin setting up in mid-October, always with a Dec. 1 target date in mind. In total, it takes 80-90 hours to put all of the lights up – not including time spent setting up the figurines and similar features.

Plus, Rose said, there is a substantial amount of prep work like trimming bushes and further landscaping. 

As one can imagine, so many lights can take a toll on the electric bill. With the overwhelming majority being LED lights, the bill is quite cheaper than the estimated $600-$700 bill using only old-style incandescent lights would bring. 

“I have about 80 percent LED lights, so about 20 percent are the old incandescents,” Rose said. “Our power bill for the month of December is between $175 and $200 to light them all once they’re all up and going. So that’s not too terrible.” 

Rose said it is his goal to have the entire display lit by LEDs in the future. 

Over the years, he has learned best practices to keep the lights in tip-top shape. 

“We probably get less than 1 percent failure every year,” he said. “A lot of it is in how you handle them; when putting them up and taking them down you just have to be gentle and hope you don’t get too many windstorms. That takes a toll on them.” 

Storms are not the only scrooges the lights face, as other aspects of nature pose a threat to the display.

“The squirrels and the rabbits kind of make it challenging because they like chewing wires, so you have to be careful how you put them on the trees. There are just different things you have to do to avoid the rodent damage,” he said. 

Rose said keeping net lights off the ground and not wrapping horizontal branches, as squirrels tend to make themselves comfortable there, help reduce damage from critters. 

All this hard work is worth it when Rose witnesses the awe it inspires. 

“I’ll be outside adjusting something at night or changing it to different settings and I’ll hear people – they don’t see me, but I hear them talking – and it’s entertaining to hear the little kids go ‘Oh, look at that! Oh wow, look at that!’ and then they’ll be some older person in their 80s making exciting comments, too. It’s fun listening to them comment on different things,” he said.

Rose knows his lights have taken on a special purpose the past two years. 

“It kind of gives everybody relief from what’s going on in society with COVID, inflation and all of the other issues we have,” he said. 

For those who have not yet visited, or wish to do so again, the display is lit from 5 p.m. to midnight most evenings through December.

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