Camas coach loves to share his Christmas magic

Rick Harrington, known for his football and baseball expertise, also knows a thing or two about Christmas lights

VANCOUVER —  He got an early start on his Christmas display this year.

Next year, though, he hopes he cannot start until December.

That is the life of an assistant football coach who also loves turning his home into a Christmas Lights Extravaganza.

Merry Christmas from Rick Harrington’s Christmas Lights Display, Harrington sets up 35,000 lights or more each year at his east Vancouver home. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Merry Christmas from Rick Harrington’s Christmas Lights Display, Harrington sets up 35,000 lights or more each year at his east Vancouver home. Photo by Jacob Granneman

Rick Harrington, a longtime assistant coach at Camas and the former head baseball coach who won a state championship at Fort Vancouver in 1990, has scaled back a bit in recent years. Now, he “only” has about 35,000 lights up at his home in east Vancouver.

“I always did a little bit, but my younger brother lived in a small place in Gresham and I swear there were lights every square foot of his property,” Harrington recalled. “There were lights everywhere. I liked what he did, and I realized I had a lot more area to do it. So I started getting into it a little bit, and it grew.”

Rick Harrington said he keeps his lights on until around 9:30 p.m. on weeknights, but later on weekends. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Rick Harrington said he keeps his lights on until around 9:30 p.m. on weeknights, but later on weekends. Photo by Jacob Granneman

His display at his home at 18801 NE 23rd Street in Vancouver has been going up around this time for the past 18 years. He thought about retiring the display, but so many people drop by his property now that he figures he must keep on giving this gift.

A few years ago, he had 50,000 lights. One year, he might go back to that number. For the most part, though, this is a solo project.

“Normally I don’t have much help,” Harrington said.

He has an 8-foot star on the roof of his home, with streamers from his front yard to the star.

His home has a large roof, too, at a steep angle.

“I haven’t fallen off a ladder,” he proudly claims.

He built six trees.

He has a few bears.

There is an archway.

You can see deer stopping at a pond to take a drink.

A nativity scene is lit up, too.

Can’t forget the Festivus Pole. Yes, a Festivus Pole from Seinfeld fame.

Homeowner Rick Harrington said his is particularly proud of the large star on his house. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Homeowner Rick Harrington said his is particularly proud of the large star on his house. Photo by Jacob Granneman

“I’m a Christian. I’m not serious about the Festivus Pole,” Harrington said. “It’s just funny.”

Every year, the lights go up, he turns them on, and people come by to visit. He usually turns them off around 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, a little later on the weekends.The lights will be on display through New Year’s.  

Since he and his wife Linda have lived there, there have been new homes built across the way. In previous years, he had extra bright lights on the trees, shining in the direction of the new homes.

“I thought for sure they would say something, but no one said a word,” Harrington said. “Never any negative feedback.”

Neighbors have become regulars, in fact.

Rick Harrington, a longtime assistant football coach at Camas, got an early start to his Christmas lights display this season. He hopes he will be busy until early December next year. But he promises he will continue hanging out with his bears and other decorations. Photo by Paul Valencia
Rick Harrington, a longtime assistant football coach at Camas, got an early start to his Christmas lights display this season. He hopes he will be busy until early December next year. But he promises he will continue hanging out with his bears and other decorations. Photo by Paul Valencia

He does not synch up his display with blinking lights and music. He is more old-school, with the C-7 and C-9 lights. He has very few LED lights. As far as music, he usually just plays a CD of Christmas songs.

Harrington said he is always thinking of ways to improve his display. Maybe there will be something new next year. Of course, he is hoping he will have a later start. This year, the Camas Papermakers were knocked out of the playoffs in early November. Next year, though, he hopes to be coaching into December.

No matter when, the plan is to put up the display again and again.

“I just love kids’ reactions. That’s really neat,” Harrington said.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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