For as long as he can recall, Brian Przybylski has always loved the magic of the holidays.
From the first time he helped his father decorate the house as a child, to leading his own family in their annual effort stringing together lights and strategically placing dozens of whimsical Christmas figurines on the front lawn, Christmastime is truly near and dear to Przybylski’s heart.
And despite the social distancing, anxiety and uncertainty of in 2020 disrupting the normality and traditions of the holidays for most, nothing was going to get in the way of Przybylski and his yuletide spirit.
In fact, it made him realize he had to kick things up a notch.
As soon as the Halloween decorations came down, the Christmas decorations began to go up.
In early November, the North Riverside resident and his family worked tirelessly to bring the spirit of the season and create a home that even the North Pole’s most famous resident would be envious of, illuminating the front of their home with a mix of all the major themes of the holidays, from religious reflections to storybook images.
With the front parkway dedicated to a complete nativity scene, neat rows of homemade multicolored milk jugs and a string-light Christmas tree brightening the home’s perimeter, Rudolph and friends on the Island of Misfit Toys, watchful elves and topped off with Santa and his reindeer up on the roof, 2524 8th Avenue is arguably the jolliest residence in the area.
To Przybylski, decorating isn’t just something he does out of family tradition; it’s something he does to be a good neighbor.
“I enjoy decorating for the reaction of everybody else,” he said. “It’s just the reactions that I get from other people, and the joy and the smiles it brings to people’s faces.”
This year, especially, continuing to share the holiday goodwill as in years past was important for the whole family.
“We’re just trying to give joy and happiness to kids who’ve been cooped up — something they can look forward to, something that people can drive by at night and not have to worry about [the pandemic],” he said.
Going big with the decorations is always something Przybylski aims for, although this year, he’s sure the home has the most decorations on display than it has ever had before.
“We try to add a new piece every year or a couple of new pieces, depending on what happened in the years past with items that have gone bad due to snow and storage,” he explained about his decorating strategy.
Another festive piece Przybylski made sure to include this year were providing kids with a way to get a photo with Santa Claus and drop off their letters to him.
From noon to 7 p.m. every Saturday through Christmas, Przybylski dresses up as Santa, while his wife, Sherry, plays Mrs. Claus, and their children, Jesse and Angela, dress up as elves for photo ops and safely mingle with passersby.
After meeting Santa, children are invited to drop off their letters and wish lists for him in a festive mailbox next to Santa’s sleigh, and they can expect a delivery back before Christmas Eve, thanks to Przybylski’s help as Santa’s assistant.
“We have a special stamp from the post office from the North Pole and put those on the letters, and we even made reindeer food with oatmeal and sparkles for delivery,” he said.
In addition to catching the attention of his North Riverside neighbors, thanks to his sharing of the festivities on local neighborhood Facebook community pages, the home has also attracted audiences from Riverside, Brookfield, LaGrange Park and other suburbs.
“People from around the area have come to stop by, and a lot of people are just saying how nice it is,” Przybylski said.