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Building some Christmas cheer

Picayune resident George Braud was tired of inflatable yard decorations that wore out quickly and didn’t have enough character, so he decided to build his own Christmas decorations.

Now, an extensive nativity stretches across the center of his yard. Included in his unique decor is a line of wooden houses, bedecked holly and angels with friendly painted faces each holding a part of the festive saying, “Peace on Earth.”

The display took two weeks to put up and the decorations were built over years. When he retired, Braud bought a saw and taught himself to make wooden yard decorations.

He made patterns more elaborate by adding layers of plywood to bring more dimension. As the years passed, he adjusted those patterns so his decorations stood firmer and were easier to store.

His attention to detail is clear. A row of brightly colored shotgun houses all have miniature wreaths on their doors. A miniature church is adorned with painted stained glass windows bordered in frames made from garden hose.

He’s created a family of gingerbread people, complete with a gingerbread cat and dog. The family of wooden snowmen on his lawn proclaim their LSU and Saints pride with hats, scarves and colorful buttons. The snowmen were built from repurposed fence boards.

This year, Braud decided to take on a challenge: building Santa, his sleigh and all the reindeer.

“This year with COVID going on, I can’t stay home and do nothing,” he said.

Santa and his reindeer are now part of his elaborate display, prepared to deliver presents before Christmas morning.

The project took three months and eight sheets of plywood, but the hard work has already brought joy to plenty of people driving by.

Braud decorates his yard for various holidays throughout the year, from wooden Easter bunnies to Fourth of July wreaths. He will start working on his newest decorations right after Christmas ends.

“The neighbors are always wondering what I’m putting up next.”

The Christmas display is located at 25615 Katie Drive, Picayune.