Each year, millions of people from coast to coast finish up the last of their Thanksgiving leftovers and dust off the boxes of collectable ornaments, Christmas trees and strands of lights to prepare both the insides and outsides of their homes for “the most wonderful time of the year.”

For more years than he can count, Stephan Teran has joined in getting into the Christmas spirit, going all out with decorating both inside and outside his home. But, what made this season special was the fact that Teran was decking out his new home in Riverside for the first time. 

After accepting a job in Chicago, Teran, who hails from Orange County, California, moved to Riverside in August with his wife, Megan, and their five children, ranging in age from 24 to 7. 

While new to the area, what won Riverside over for Teran and his family was everything Riverside works hard to sell itself on — proximity to downtown Chicago, strong schools and friendly neighbors. 

“This was a nice, central location, and it looked like a great neighborhood,” he said.

But Teran has always been a Christmas lights kind of guy, developing an interest in extreme lighting as a child.

“One year, my brother and I convinced our dad to put up more lights, [but] then once I got my own house, I started putting up more and more lights,” he said. 

So this year, after a successful past couple of months becoming acquainted with their new village, Teran and his family decided that in keeping with their California tradition, they would continue going big with the Christmas decor in the new digs. 

This year, Teran estimates he and his family strung close to 14,000 lights outside from rooftop to sidewalk. 

“We actually only spend a day doing it, believe it or not,” he said about setup, a family affair which took place the day after Thanksgiving. 

While the family doesn’t cue their lighting display to music, Teran said the family has gotten great reception for their first time decorating in town. 

“It’s been awesome. People have been super friendly and nice,” he said. “We’ve had a couple notes on our door just thanking us for the display and had a couple of people knock on the door, [including] carolers.”

Locals hoping to see the lights display at 325 Gage Road have until New Year’s Day, when Teran said the family will begin taking everything down, weather-permitting. 

Overall, Teran is happy to introduce the family’s fun way of being festive to the community. 

“We just love doing it,” he said. We always look at it like we just want to bring a smile to people’s faces when we do it, so we’re just happy that people enjoy it.”