Menifee's Carnes 'Christmas House' Attracts Big Crowds Again
If you want to get an early start on some holiday cheer, stop by 30035 Calle Pompeii in Menifee one ...
For the 17th year, Chris and Mary Carnes are opening their house to guests every night from now until New Year's. Utilizing virtually every square inch of the ground floor of their two-story home, as well as the front of the garage and yard, the Carnes family displays thousands of figurines, miniature Victorian villages and other brightly colored holiday decorations.
It's a tradition that has attracted thousands over the years and grows with each holiday season. Chris Carnes estimates that 14,000 people visited the house last December. On opening night Saturday night, nearly 300 people passed through their doors in the first hour.
Visitors are invited to sign a guest book and bring canned food items to be donated to the Menifee Valley Community Cupboard. Last year, the Carnes collected more than 1,900 pounds of food for the charity.
The Carnes family advertises only through word of mouth and a Facebook page -- "MaryChrisMess." The word definitely is out. Past visitors have come from as far away as Russia and Korea. The house is open every night starting at 6 p.m. -- including Christmas and New Year's Day -- and as late as people show up to view it.
In addition to walking past the indoor displays and partaking of home-cooked meatballs, soup and beverages, guests linger outside to talk to Carnes family members and warm themselves by a fire pit in the driveway. Some even come in costume.
The items displayed this year represent only about half of the family's inventory, which is stored on site throughout the year. Scenes are rotated each year, so there is alwa