Keitel’s lights

NESTT Coordinator Phil Keitel briefly explains his family’s Christmas decoration tradition and participating in the annual Lucas Farms History Walk.

When driving down the historic Lucas Farms neighborhood, glimmering lights adorning every house can be seen in honor of the annual “Lucas Farms History Walk”. After gazing at the decorations, bystanders vote for their favorite house. The organizers of the celebration then reveal a grand champion at the end, and the victor receives a bag of chocolates and a $50 gift card. 

Phil Keitel, the NESTT coordinator at West High, was the grand champion of the 2015 competition. He has continued to participate in the contest ever since. 

“Why I like it so much is because I have a seven-year-old a three-year-old, and they love Christmas lights,” Keitel said. “…I think it’s probably just because my kids like it so much, that’s why I do it.”

When Keitel was younger, he didn’t experience every aspect of Christmas, such as decorating. Due to that, he makes sure to go all out every year for his kids to enjoy the holiday entirely.

“My dad never really did Christmas lights when I was a kid, even though I wanted to, but it’s a lot of work,” Keitel said. “It gives me an incredible amount of anxiety just to get all this stuff out to start it [decorating], but once I go, then it’s all good.”

My dad never really did Christmas lights when I was a kid, even though I wanted to, but it’s a lot of work.”

— Phil Keitel

Lucas Farms holds the walk to display the neighborhood’s unique history and architecture. The site was home to many notable figures, such as Robert Lucas, the first governor of Iowa.

“I live in the Lucas farms neighborhood in the southeast side of Iowa City. Plum Grove sits in Lucas farms neighborhood, and that’s the original governor’s house,” Keitel said. “So it’s like the most historical part of Iowa City.”

Keitel’s decorations for this year featured a variety of inflatables, including an 8 feet Santa Clause, a 10 feet tall snowman, and a Merry Christmas sign. He had to plan his decorations accordingly to fit the weather circumstances, so the wind couldn’t blow the inflatables away. 

“It’s just like hope Mother Nature doesn’t destroy [the decorations],” Keitel said. 

To check out the decorations of the other houses, visit the Lucas Farms neighborhood around December 25th.

Countdown until the next Lucas Farms History Walk
Check out the Lucas Farms History Walk at the Lucas Farms Neighborhood!