In Plainville, Scooby-Doo Christmas house goes all out for a cause

Don Stacom, Hartford Courant
·3 min read

Quirkiness is a Christmastime tradition outside Mark and April Blethen’s Plainville home, where Santa decorations and thousands of lights are overshadowed by the bigger-than-life figures of Shaggy, Daphne and the rest of the Scooby-Doo gang.

This year, visitors get a special treat: The Blethens have created a winding trail through the holiday decorations in their yard, and the public is welcome to walk through — with appropriate social distancing, of course.

“I think we had 1,200 to 1,500 people in the first three days,” Mark Blethen said Dec 16. “There aren’t that many things you can do this year, so we’re seeing a lot of people.”

The Blethens’ home at 174 N. Washington St. has been associated with the popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon so long that neighbors routinely call it the Scooby House.

Every November and December, it is among the most heavily decorated and brightly lit homes in central Connecticut, mixing traditional Christmas figures with offbeat specialties. There was a Minions section last year, for instance, and now various parts of the yard carry Grinchville and Bugs Bunny themes.

But the Scooby gang and their Mystery Machine are always the stars.

“We’ve got every Scooby-Doo movie ever made, every Hallmark Scooby. My wife used to watch Scooby-Do with our nephew, and they loved it,” Blethen said.

Blethen, the owner of Bristol Sign Art Inc., recalled that he was stuck in his shop during a snowstorm in the late 1990s; with nothing to do, he made a couple of large Masonite cut-outs of his wife’s favorite cartoon characters.

“We started this with just a couple and each year we added more. One year I didn’t put them out and we got couple of notes in our mailbox asking when we’d put them up — my wife said ‘you have to do it,’ “ he said. “Then we added the Mystery Machine.”

Matching the distinctive late-’60s colors of the psychedelic van was the hardest challenge, and Blethen bought some original film cells from Barker Animation in Cheshire to get the tones right.

Over the years, several of the Scooby-Doo cut-outs were swiped by people in the middle of the night; some were later returned, but one was dropped in the street and damaged by a car driving over it.

“For a while the stuff was getting beaten up. I’ve had to touch them up and add some shadows,” Blethen said.

There are cameras and other security measures in place now, and the displays in recent years went so well that the Blethens added the walk-through yard area last year. There are also 80 large inflatables, a video projector showing Frosty the Snowman on the side of their garage, a bubble machine in the Little Mermaid section and a smoke machine near inflatable dragons.

The Blethens buy and install the decorations themselves, and nearly didn’t have a show this year. A falling tree destroyed their garage, but they were able to salvage most of their gear.

The shows are a hit with neighbors and visitors.

“We loved your display last year. Your handmade decorations bring a lot of joy to the community,” Michael Goss wrote on a Facebook page that features the Blethens’ decorations.

This year’s decorations will be illuminated Thursday to Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m. through New Year’s Eve. Admission is free, but the Blethens ask that visitors bring nonperishable foods or cash donations for the Plainville Food Pantry.

“So far we’ve filled 13 bins of food and gotten over $500 in cash donations,” Blethen said. “It means a lot this year. Some of the people who came through last year for the display and donated food are now using the food pantry.”