LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It’s the season of lights, garlands and trees, but one East Texan has come up with a different kind of decorating for the holidays.
A casual drive along Pineland street in Longview, and you come across and unusual holiday display. The inspiration of homeowner Rusty Johnson.
“Well I had the animals, and the kids like to see the animals, so it’s Christmas time so I decorated the animals. I’ve always enjoyed wildlife and I used to go elk hunting until I got too old and too fat, too beat up,” Rusty says.
It’s become an attraction, Johnson even giving tours.
“I’ve had a couple of tours come through, birthday parties in the neighborhood. 3 doors down my neighbor, she’s like 86, she brought her kids, her kids are 64,” Johnson says.
It’s like a nature safari, with over 30 animals Rusty has collected over the past 3 years.
“Well we got lions, we got tigers and we got bears,” he says.
He didn’t hunt any of them, just bought at various places.
“You got an antelope up there I picked him up at a pawn shop in Gilmer,” says Johnson.
And he had to have special papers just to own some of them.
“Some of these you have to have papers on to have, the polar bear has to have been killed before 68 and you have to prove it. Papers on the wolf. The lion outside, had to have papers on it,” he says.
Some, like a 12 foot polar bear, so large it was a challenge just to get inside.
“Took 6 of us, we had to take the fence down in the back yard to bring him in the house. He set in the garage for a month,” he says.
But he’s loving the opportunity to show them.
“My brother says I’m crazy. So it’s fun,” says Rusty.
Johnson welcomes everyone to come take a look at his safari Christmas display, which he will leave up until the holidays are over.