By Kris McDowell
Peacock Lane is a SE Portland holiday tradition, with residents of the four-block street decking it out in holiday spirit annually, even as houses are sold and new families move in.
Since 1932 the houses are adorned with lights, nativity scenes, trees and replicas of a variety of colorful holiday characters. The decorating is voluntary and homeowners can choose an over-the-top display while others prefer a more subtle approach.
John LaVeille bought his Peacock Lane house in 1992 and along with it came a red and white, eight-foot-tall decoration of the Grinch and his dog, Max.
The Dr. Seuss duo has been passed along through at least three ownerships of his house with LaVeille adding a cut out in the shape of an open book with the words: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hasn’t before. Maybe Christmas perhaps doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas means a little bit more,” painted on by hand.
Each December, LaVeille has posed the Grinch with his book and Max, illuminated by flood lights in his front yard. Next to the Grinch is a partial string of lights along the front peak of the house, made to appear as if the Grinch is pulling the lights off the house to steal, and stuff in his big, red Santa-style bag loaded with presents he’s stolen.
Actual theft and vandalism are unfortunate things that happen to some of the decorations every year. In the mid-1990s LaVeille’s Grinch was a target and his head was removed. The break happened mid-season and he had to do an emergency repair. After the repair, the Grinch could be seen sporting a large red bow around his neck to disguise the damage.
Then in 2019, a Peacock Lane visitor accidently tripped over Max while having his picture taken with his child and Max’s neck was broken.
Due to COVID-19, Peacock Lane did not hold their annual holiday lighting display last year so the Grinch and Max stayed tucked away in LaVeille’s garage. 2020 was only the third year that the street had not been lit up. The other years it was black were in 1941 during the rationing of electricity during WWII and in 1974, the year of the oil embargo.
Earlier this year, LaVeille decided to put his house up for sale and as part of the preparation processes, wanted to make sure that his Grinch and Max decorations were in better shape for the new owners so that he could continue the tradition of passing them along. He reached out to Weitzer Company, who had done remodeling work on the house, for help.
As a renovation, remodel and new construction company, Weitzer has a full team of carpenters and woodworking shop at their SE Lincoln St. location.
Garrison Connors was the person who did the work for LaVeille, saying, “We are always excited to take on a new challenge and, while we often have interesting and creative projects coming out of our woodshop, this was a fun change.”
Connors continued, “Not since 2010, when we built and installed a metal topper ornament for the roof of another home on Peacock Lane, have we done something quite like this. We love John’s passion for the history of Peacock Lane and it was great to work with him in stewarding this particular piece.”
The Grinch and Max, in their newly spruced-up form, are currently ready and waiting for the holiday season to arrive when they’ll be once again displayed along with the other decorated houses along Peacock Lane.
Stay up to date on details and dates of this year’s Peacock Lane festivities at their website, peacockland.org.
Photo by Weitzer Co.: John LaVeille, the Grinch (before refurbishing) and Garrison Connors