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House decorating winner to donate prize

Driving up to 2177 59th Street in Somerset after dusk is like driving toward a wonderland.

The property is visible from 220th Street and County Road I. Blue and white stars shine through the treetops -- approximately three stories off the ground.

Elsewhere on the sprawling front lawn are lighted deer, a family of illuminated snowpeople, bright candy canes and even the skeleton of a carport - outlined in glowing icicles.

Brian and Tammy Pinska, owners of the house and all its decorations, are the first prize winners of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and Xcel Energy's holiday house decoration contest.

In preparation for the Christmas season, the Pinskas started unloading the Christmas storage boxes two weeks before Thanksgiving.

"They have their own storage shed," Brian admitted.

Both Brian and Tammy concede that although they don't sit down and sketch out a design, a few things anchor the layout each year.

That's mainly because they have only really started decorating for Christmas three years ago.

"We just add a little bit at a time," Tammy said.

Brian and Tammy said they remember their parents decorating for the season, and they wanted to continue the tradition.

"Our house was always in the paper back in Cottage Grove," Tammy said, of where she and Brian grew up. The couple have two sons, one 3 1/2 years old and the other 9 months.

Brian said as a quarry worker with the winter off, he has enough time to work on the outside layout.

"But you never get a full day," he admitted.

More than 100 extension cords and a few weeks later, friends entered the Pinska home in the house decoration contest.

When they were notified that they'd won first prize, they knew exactly what to do with the money.

"Brian's mom passed away two years ago from cancer, she was very into decorating for the holidays," Tammy explained. "We already decided that if we won, we'd donate the money to the American Cancer Society.

She said, "That is where the money will go."