ST. GEORGE — Eric Ortiz’ home may be one of the town’s most impressively decorated for Christmas, with dancing lights and strings of colorful bulbs extending all the way to the roof. His neighbors say the beautifully adorned home is an accurate reflection of Ortiz’ spirit of giving – during the holidays and year-round.
When he was 21, Ortiz suffered from a brain tumor that left him mentally challenged and limited the use of one of his arms.
“He has his struggles and limitations, but he is a good, solid worker,” Ted Squyres said.
Squyres is Ortiz’ next-door neighbor and the community manager for their small townhome community just across from the St. George Temple.
The men first met several years ago when Ortiz offered to help with an irrigation project for the neighborhood. Squyres said that’s when Ortiz first started coming out of his “shell” and began talking to all the neighbors in the condo and helping them in any way he could.
Ortiz returns trash cans from the street, plant trees, cuts grass, assists with plumbing, paints and does a number of other tasks for the townhome community, composed mostly of elderly people.
The neighbors often reward his efforts with homemade treats, such as bread, peanut brittle, candies and cakes.
Perhaps his biggest community effort comes during the holidays when Ortiz begins planning the elaborate Christmas light display for his own home and the neighbors’ homes.
“I plan it out every year, and I start putting the lights up a little before Thanksgiving,” Ortiz said.
In fact, Ortiz, now 50, has been saving strings of Christmas lights since he was a teenager and has been planning elaborate outdoor Christmas displays for decades.
Ortiz uses his own lights to decorate neighboring homes free of charge. Certainly, the most spectacular home on the block is his own, complete with singing Christmas bells, reindeer and snowmen displays and lights on nearly every inch of the house.
See short video clip of Ortiz’ home in the media player top of this report.
“I love Christmas. I do a little bit more every year,” Ortiz said. “I just try to make people happy and like doing it because it makes me happy.”
Ortiz said he wants to someday make his entire street a destination for the St. George community to drive through during the holidays, complete with synchronized lights and Christmas music. The already impressive display can be viewed at the townhomes on the corner of 500 South and 200 East on the west side of the temple.
“Next year it’s going to be better,” Ortiz said. “I do bigger every year.”
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