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Next-door neighbors sum up Christmas decorations in a word

12-03 xmas lights ditto sj.jpg
A neighbor acknowledges and approves of the holiday lighting display of another along the west frontage road in the 2500 block of South Broadway in Rochester.

Every holiday season, Robert and Tina Riggs wrap their house in garlands of Christmas lights. Their next door neighbors, Bob and Nancy Matthews — not so much.

Right after Thanksgiving, Robert Riggs stands on a 6-foot step ladder and places wreaths of colorful lights around his towering evergreen with the help of 12-foot pole. His wife holds the ladder so he doesn't fall. Except for a couple of strands of rope lights draped over a fence, the Matthews' home is light-free.

Like a student who leans over to copy the test of his neighbor, the Matthews this year employed an if-you-can't-beat-them-join-them strategy. "DITTO," their lights say, with an arrow that points to the Riggs' abode.

Nancy Matthews said it was her son Mike, a Dover resident, who saw in the contrast an opportunity for his mischievous sense of humor. Now everyone who drives by the homes on South Broadway across from Walmart South can't help but chuckle. Shoppers coming out of the store can't miss it. Social media has taken note. It's been all over Facebook.

"One friend of mine who lives in Chatfield said she saw it on her way home, and she said it just made her smile all the way home," said Nancy Matthews.

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Robert Riggs, the owner of the house to whom the arrow points, says he and his wife enjoy the joke, although they haven't yet had a conversation with the Matthews about it.

"(My wife) gets a kick out of it," Robert Riggs said. "She thought the ditto was very clever."

Riggs said the family's Christmas display gets ever-more elaborate every year. He tackles the task of decorating the house in phases. The roof is done first, right after the leaves fall, a job that takes about half-a-day. The rest takes about two days to finish. The decorations have become an indispensable part of Christmas, although it turns his electric meter into a fan every year.

Riggs already has an eye on some improvements for next year.

"In fact, I've been looking at a couple of things that are available this year that I kind of like," he said.

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