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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Even With 2 Broken Ribs, Pilsen Woman Brings Back Elaborate Christmas Display As A Gift To Her Community

“It keeps me going when I see people coming and taking pictures,” said Isabel Hernandez of her festive lights. “All the pain and work, it’s worth it.”

Holiday lights and decorations are hung up in the 1300 block of West 19th St. in Pilsen on Dec. 3, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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PILSEN — Isabel Hernandez, known for her ornate holiday decorations and vibrant garden, once again has transformed her yard into a winter wonderland with even more decorations. 

But Hernandez, who has lived in Pilsen for nearly 40 years, was almost unable to finish the project well-known among neighbors after she fell off a ladder three weeks ago decorating the outside of her home. She broke two ribs and was told to take it easy. 

“My doctor said I have to rest, but I thought, ‘I can’t,’” Hernandez said. “Even with the pain, I had to finish.” 

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Holiday lights and decorations are hung up in the 1300 block of West 19th St. in Pilsen on Dec. 3, 2021.

Through the pain, the finished result includes colorful, twinkling lights along her fences and the sides of her two-story home on 19th Street between Throop and Loomis streets. Her yard is full of festive figurines, candy cane poles, Christmas trees, a Nativity scene and several inflatables, including a giant Santa she brought back from a recent trip to Mexico. 

Originally from Juarez, Mexico, Hernandez said she loves to bring back Christmas decorations from her trips, like papel picados or anything that says, “Feliz Navidad.”

Hernandez said the main reason she spends so much time and money decorating is because it’s her way of giving to the neighborhood during the holiday season. 

“Christmas is the time to give, and to me it represents peace and thinking about others,” she said. “When I was a child, we didn’t have much, so now I like to share what I can.”

Besides her recent injury, Hernandez experiences chronic pain and said the time she spends decorating helps take her mind off of her discomfort.

“It keeps me going when I see people coming and taking pictures,” she said. “All the pain and work, it’s worth it. … I just hope when I have to take it down, there’s not a snowstorm.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Holiday lights and decorations are hung up in the 1300 block of West 19th St. in Pilsen on Dec. 3, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Holiday lights and decorations are hung up in the 1300 block of West 19th St. in Pilsen on Dec. 3, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Holiday lights and decorations are hung up in the 1300 block of West 19th St. in Pilsen on Dec. 3, 2021.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Holiday lights and decorations are hung up in the 1300 block of West 19th St. in Pilsen on Dec. 3, 2021.

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