Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Duane and Wendy Pugmire, the husband and wife behind the Pug’s Light Show in Green River. The Christmas light show has been going since 2014, and many of Green River’s families have incorporated the show into their Christmas traditions.
A few years into doing the light show, the Pugmires noticed how many people check out their house throughout the month of December, and decided to do more than spread Christmas cheer. They began asking the community members who come to see their light show to leave cans of food to be donated to the local food banks. The Pugmires turn the food into the Food Bank of Sweetwater County at the start of the new year to help give families in need a good start to the year.
Pug’s Light Show is located at 291 Sunset St. in Green River. The show runs from 5 pm to midnight daily until December 31. Make sure to tune into 90.1 FM to listen to the songs that accompany the lights. And if you can, bring some non-perishable food items or other items for the local food bank. For more information on the Pug’s Light Show, visit their Facebook page.
Duane and Wendy, when did you start doing the Pug’s Light Show? How did you get the idea?
We started the light show back in 2014. Duane had always wanted to do synchronized lights, and we kept finding ourselves looking at the plug-n-play light show boxes. Plus, having bought our house, we had the storage, and we had the room outside for a lot of lights. The plug-n-play shows are great, but they’re very limited in what you can do with them, and you pretty much have to stick with whatever songs they come with. We wanted more control than that, so for Duane’s birthday that year, my parents and I decided to go in together and get him his first Light-O-Rama box. I think that first year we had like eight songs, and now we have 16. We do eight each night through the week and then on the weekend, and on Christmas Eve, all 16 play. It all started with that one birthday present, though I never figured it would grow to what is has now.
When did you start collecting food for the local food bank, and why?
We didn’t start the food drive until 2018. Over the previous years, we saw how many people came by to see the light show. We even had people suggesting we set up a donation box, but they were thinking more of a monetary donation. We got to talking about it, and decided that we didn’t want to do that, but perhaps there was something different we could do that would benefit the community. I think we were cleaning out our cupboards at the time for a different food drive, and it got us thinking. With everyone that came by to see the lights every year, if everyone brought even a single can of food, it would add up. Most of the food drives take place before the holidays, but people need help at the beginning of the year too, so we decided to start the food drive, have it go through the entire month of December, and deliver to the food bank at the start of the year.
When do you start planning the Pug’s Light Show? When do you start putting up the lights?
Well, we actually somewhat start planning after Christmas for the next year. We go and see what is on clearance and buy for the following year, then we kind of forget about it until November (sometimes October). Once we actually start putting it up, it takes about two weeks for Duane to get all the lights up and can take me most of November to get the sequences ready, depending on what we’ve changed. He’s in charge of the outside and I handle all of the sequencing. We always try to add something new each year to the outside and add at least one new song.
Christmas must be a big holiday in your family. What other Christmas traditions do you have?
I think our biggest tradition is going out and cutting our own Christmas tree. Depending on how much snow is on the ground, it can be a lot of fun. We go, find a tree, and then stop for hot chocolate and food on our way home. Other than that, whenever possible, we go around on Christmas Eve and look at lights. When we can’t go on Christmas Eve, we pick another night and drive around both Rock Springs and Green River, armed with hot chocolate!
What does it mean to you both to be able to put this Christmas light show on for the community?
We really enjoy it and love the fact that it has become a tradition for so many families in the community. It’s a chance for families to get together and spend time together while watching our light show.
How did you end up in Green River?
Surprisingly enough, we both grew up in Utah. It’s so fast paced down there and there are soooo many people. We both were moved to Wyoming by our parents when we were teenagers (a few years apart) and Duane has been here ever since. I’ve lived briefly in both Wisconsin and Washington, but in the end, this is home, and I came back.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
We love how close-knit the community is, and I don’t think that’s ever been as showcased as it has been this year. There have been a lot of families in need this year due to current events, and we’ve seen so many people step up to help out. It’s an amazing thing to see and just one of the benefits of living in smaller communities.
When it’s not Christmas time, what are some of your hobbies?
We love to go camping, fishing, hunting, four-wheeling, and just anything outdoors. There’s nothing better than just being able to get away from everything for a while, and what’s better than being in the outdoors? Plus, it lets us spend time together as a family and make memories with our son that will last forever.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Enjoy every moment that you get to spend with the people that you care about. There’s no telling what the future may hold, and you don’t want to have regrets.
Where are some of your favorite places to hang out in Sweetwater County?
When we’re not at home, we either go for a drive along the wild horse loop or go out to the lake. There’s just so much to do and it’s nice to go out and just relax and share our interests with our son.
What Christmas song would you sing at karaoke night?
Karaoke? Neither of us are really karaoke singers and I wouldn’t even know what to pick! We both love Christmas songs.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Maybe it sounds corny, but that would have to be our son. We love that little guy to pieces and we can’t wait to see the man he grows into. He might be only two, but he makes us so proud everyday as he tries new things and we’re so lucky to be his parents.
Why do you choose to continue living in Wyoming?
I think the bigger question is why would we want to live anywhere else? We’ve both lived in or near the big cities and they’re not for us. They get so overcrowded and there’s so much traffic! We both enjoy the wide open spaces that Wyoming offers, and the sense of community that you don’t see in the city. Sure, it can be a drive to get anywhere, but that’s just a part of living here, and you never know what you’re going to see on those drives. We both really enjoy everything that Wyoming has to offer, and if there’s something we need that we can’t get here, we can always get it online or make the drive to Utah. The positives of living where we do far outweigh the negatives, and neither of us would want to go back to living where everything is so crazy and wouldn’t want to raise our son anywhere else.