And a very merry Kloewer Christmas to all!

I've been making the pilgrimage every Christmastime to the Kloewer family home on Elati Street, just north of Belleview, for at least the last eleven years, and this is why: Being Jewish and all, it doesn't really feel like Christmas until I've immersed myself in some sort of urban electric madness...even if I don't get there until after Christmas is over, as it happened this year. Ever since I was a twelve-year-old kid walking home from a friend's house in the December dark, I've been drawn to the light, and I still, to this day, remember fondly a certain house with wild decorations on East Bails Place that used to brighten the trek.

Writer Harrison Fletcher captured it pretty well when he wrote about the Kloewers in Westword in 2000, but it can't be truly experienced until it's done live, bundled against the chill, wandering among the hordes of gawkers and children, amazed by the sheer nuts of it all: the intertwining garden trains, the twirling Barbie dolls, the cases upon themed cases of teddy bears and toys. So, here's a walk-through. And you still have a couple days to behold the wonder yourself: Visit the Kloewers from 5 to 10 p.m., through New Year's Day. After that, the switch turns off and -- good for the Kloewers -- the electric bill goes down.

The Kloewers' son lives down the street, where he joins in the madness every year. The Kloewer corner lot on fire. Let the dioramas unfold! There's something for everyone. Something for the horse geeks: For John Deere tractor collectors: For boosters of Englewood High: For bikers (an old Englewood tradition): For urban farmers: For closet Barbie enthusiasts (in or out of the box): And for Peanuts fans: And, most importantly, for model train nuts. In some years, trains even emerged out of a tunnel from inside of the house. Ho, ho, ho! Don't forget to make a donation! And to all a good night...

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