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Residents’ Christmas decorations on display for hospice fundraiser

Mary and Dan Huls stand in the Harley Davidson-themed room in their South Shore Drive home. Their home is one of four to be featured this year in the Christmas House Walk, a fundraiser for the Hospice Cottage Inc. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)1 / 2
A large Nativity scene near the fully decorated living room of the Dan and Mary Huls home in Worthington will be featured in the tour. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — At least 10 decorated Christmas trees, more than two dozen Santas — including two limited edition hand clay-molded, life-like Santas — a trio of nativity sets and an array of decorative displays fill Dan and Mary Huls’ holiday home at 1612 South Shore Dr., in Worthington.

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The couple doesn’t typically decorate this early — or quite this much — for the Christmas season, but they have a special reason for doing so this year. The Huls’ are one of four couples opening their homes Friday and Saturday for Worthington Hospice Cottage Inc.’s 11th annual Christmas House Walk fundraiser.

Other homes on the tour include those of Craig and Pam Bergh, 133 Lake Ave.; Jeff and Ellen Merrigan, 2460 Campbell Blvd.; and Ron and Kathy Tangen, 1155 Maplewood Dr.

All proceeds from the tour benefit Hospice Cottage, Inc., which is why the Huls volunteered to participate in the Christmas House Walk. In 2002, Dan’s father was under hospice care prior to his death. That was before the cottage was constructed in Worthington.

“Hospice was a big part of helping my mom out with him because he stayed at home. We kind of wanted to give something back,” Dan said. “We just want to raise as much money as possible.”

The Huls began decorating their home inside and out earlier this month, bringing out collections of Christmas items that haven’t always been displayed in recent years.

“We never really put this much up because we just put up the stuff we had (together),” Dan said. “She had stuff from her previous marriage and I had some from mine — my kids and I did — and so we kind of put everything out now. This is the first year we’ve had a reason to do it.”

The Huls did all of the decorating themselves, from hanging greenery and lights inside and out to decorating their vast array of Christmas trees.

The home is filled with a variety of collections — from the Dept. 56 pieces Mary received as gifts over the years, to the Jim Shore limited edition pieces Dan gifted to Mary for her birthday, and the Harley Davidson memorabilia room that is Dan’s home office. A collection of Terry Redlin plates can be found in various rooms of the home, and a display of Coca-Cola items is featured in the kitchen. In the dining area, Mary has displayed several pieces of Lefton holly-themed dishes that came from her mother’s extensive collection.

In the living room, as a fire crackled in the fire place Saturday morning, the Huls talked about their family Christmas tree, which is filled with ornaments they have collected on their travels as well as those dating back to their childhood.

“Mom would give us ornaments as we were growing up and then when we moved out, she gave us a box of things,” said Mary. “For my kids, I did the same thing. The thinking is they have something to start with when they go out on their own.”

While Mary has since given both her son and daughter the ornaments of their growing-up years, she kept the special dated ornaments marking the years of their births.

Other trees on the home’s main level include one in the couple’s bedroom done in the more traditional Christmas colors of red, gold and silver, with some crystal pieces incorporated as well — including a pair of crystal lovebirds the couple received as a wedding gift.

Down the hall, Dan’s home office has everything Harley Davidson, from the wallpaper trim to the cookie jars and the Harley-trimmed Christmas tree.

“I hate to even guess how much we’ve got invested in Harley Davidson ornaments,” Dan said. “Some of them have got real crystals in them. We’ve been collecting them over the years.”

At the base of the tree rests a few old wooden ducks — toys from Dan’s childhood — and a working train set that came from Mary’s family. There is also a mechanical Santa and Mrs. Claus, which have already scared the dickens out of the Huls’ house dog, Sally.

“Sally, she loves the little stuffed animals,” said Dan, adding that the dog thinks some of the decorations are her personal toys. So far, she’s only managed to chew up a decorative sled.

Outside Dan’s office stands a Christmas tree filled with ornaments purchased over the years for his kids, from cartoon characters to sports-themed bulbs and the more recent — featuring the emblem of the Marines. Dan’s son, Luke, is currently in the Marines in North Carolina, while Mary’s son, Brandon, is a Marine Corps veteran.

The Christmas décor continues into the downstairs, where two bedrooms, a bar and sitting rooms include an Old World-themed Christmas tree, Old World Santas, an outdoors-themed tree and additional Christmas village pieces. On the bar, visitors will find a lights-and-motion village brewery, while the adjacent room features Dan’s outdoors collectibles, from an antique lantern decorated with his dad’s old fishing lures, to his collection of hand-carved hunting knives crafted by local artisan Jerry Johnson.

The Huls — likely minus their dog Sally — will welcome guests to their home during the Christmas House Walk from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for the event may be purchased at Worthington’s Hy-Vee, McCarthy’s Floral, Sterling Drug, Chamber of Commerce, Blooms-n-Baskets, etc., or Sanford Regional Hospital Worthington’s gift shop. There will be no tickets sold at the homes; and the walk is open to adults and children ages 12 and older.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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