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Taking it outside: Yard displays spread cheer, encouragement

Red, white and blue Christmas lights. A pink pig in a flower-covered Santa hat. A Mickey Mouse lawn ornament with a sign urging neighbors to “stay strong.”

And, yes, more teddy bears.

When The Buffalo News asked readers to share photos of how they have decorated the outside of their homes in an attempt to spread cheer, Western New Yorkers responded.

Marilyn Lew wrote this via email: “My husband, Dennis Stefanski, loves to put up thousands of lights at Christmas around our home in Orchard Park. So it was easy for him to decorate in red, white and blue lights as a show of support and community in this difficult time. You’ll notice that our flag is also flying proudly.”

Miriam Haefner, of Clarence, explained how her yard display came together: "I started with the flag - as most all did at 9/11. Then I heard - put up lights. I expanded my usual Christmas display, as with no snow I could wrap the bottom rail for better effect.

"Then a friend sent me an email about the teddy bear hunting. I’m a long-standing bear collector. Worked for years at Bearly & More Toys on Transit Road, East Amherst. I’ve got bears!

"Making this pandemic easier for children and a light spot for adults – I was up past midnight!" wrote Haefner, whose niece, husband and their two toddlers live on Long Island. Hence, the "I (heart) NY" sign.

"This is my shout out to the world!" she added.

We have put together a gallery of photos. We will add any others we receive (my email is below), so watch for updates.

Have examples to share about how daily life is changing for Western New Yorkers? Reach out to Susan Martin at

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