A Bayside resident is bringing a smile to people’s faces with his festive front lawn decorations.
As one drives down Bell Boulevard, one might notice Lon Blais’s creative summer decorations of vibrant pink flamingos, colorful balloons, figurines and Christmas lights.
Blais’s display is often referred to as the “fun house” that has attracted passers-by who stop to take pictures and video of the home at 33-58 Bell Blvd. It’s a site you can’t miss, especially at night when the twinkling lights illuminate the front yard.
“What I love is when people walk by with the look of ‘What’s this?’ on their faces and they end up smiling. I love that,” Blais said. “Some people walk by and say, ‘Thank you, this cheers me up’ and I’m not even done yet — there’s more!’”
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blais left a bowl of chalk on his driveway inviting people to write messages and draw pictures.
Every once in a while, a new item is placed on the lawn, Blais said.
“No one has ever stolen anything or written anything inappropriate and that says something about community and what this does,” Blais said.
This isn’t the first time Blais has received a positive response for his decorations.
Throughout the years, Blais’ home — both the interior and exterior — decorations have changed with the seasons and holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“For Christmas, I decorate in blue, silver and white so when the holiday is over it drifts into Valentine’s Day and the windows are done, too,” Blais said. “In the summer, it’s kind of like a sad day when I have to start putting up the corn cobs and the pumpkins and stuff because this is just ridiculously fun.”
Blais’ wife loves to tease him about his decorations, but it’s all in good humor, he said.
Blais and his wife previously lived in an apartment nearby the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. According to Blais, his wife became ill with cytomegalovirus, which affects people of all ages. Their lives changed when they purchased their home on Bell Boulevard.
“I used to tell my wife that if we have a house of our own, it will be about a celebration,” Blais said. “She was really ill at the time with a migraine and was sleeping at least 16 to 18 hours a day. It’s something she’s been dealing with for the past 27 years of her life.”
As his wife continued to suffer from the debilitating illness, Blais retired from his job as a teacher at M.S. 67 in Little Neck. Soon thereafter, he returned to theater, launched a web series, and wrote a one-man show touring the country and performing in Bayside.
Additionally, Blais established his own business, The Neighborhood Angel, which provides services such as clean-outs, junkyard removal, reorganization and heavy chores.
According to Blais, as his wife became better, the idea came to mind after neighbors came by asking if he could lend a hand helping them with one thing or another around their homes, which they couldn’t handle on their own.
“At the time, I thought nothing of it, but when someone said, ‘Thank you Lon, you’re an angel’ I said, ‘Wow, look at me, I’m the neighborhood angel,’” Blais said.
Instead of disposing of the furniture and other items he removes from homes, Blais brings it to his home and gives it away for free.
“Why junk it when someone else could use it?” Blais said. “Now, I send an email list to my piranhas, whom I lovingly call, providing help for someone.”
Blais said he tries to radiate positivity during a time when the community is adjusting to a “new normal” amid the pandemic.
“I always say if you’re really upset, the best thing you can do is roll up your sleeves and help someone because if you make it outside of yourself, if you focus on your problems you really focus on your problems,” Blais said. “Nothing will make you feel better than helping someone else.”