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Christmas Characters and Car Cutouts honor father, home

Colorful hand-painted Christmas characters riding in a variety of Ford vehicles stand large and festive in the yard of Bob Larson on Chippewa Street in Brainerd.

Hand-painted Christmas cutouts featuring characters riding in a Ford Mustang decorate the yard of Bob Larson on Chippewa Street in Brainerd. The artwork was based off of the characters of illustrator Richard Scarry from the Ford Rotunda Christmas Books of the '50s and '60s. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Hand-painted Christmas cutouts featuring characters riding in a Ford Mustang decorate the yard of Bob Larson on Chippewa Street in Brainerd. The artwork was based off of the characters of illustrator Richard Scarry from the Ford Rotunda Christmas Books of the '50s and '60s. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Colorful hand-painted Christmas characters riding in a variety of Ford vehicles stand large and festive in the yard of Bob Larson on Chippewa Street in Brainerd.

This is the second year Larson put out the decorations. He made them last year after his father Dwane Larson died as a way to show there is still life in the household and to honor his dad. Bob Larson was a caregiver for his father.

"He was really a great person, even in dementia," Bob Larson said.

Bob Larson has fond childhood memories of hopping in the car and going around to look at all of the Christmas displays in the Brainerd area.

Creating such large cutouts for his holiday display required projecting the source material onto plywood and tracing the outlines. From there, Bob Larson needed an artistic eye as he completed the detail work by freehand.

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The characters and cars are based on the artwork of noted children's book illustrator Richard Scarry, who did illustrations for the Ford Rotunda Christmas Books. Those books were given to children who visited the Ford Rotunda in Dearborn, Mich., during the holidays from the mid-'50s to the early 1960s. Bob Larson and his twin brother Bruce Larson are both vintage Ford enthusiasts, each with their own collectibles. Larson says he currently has a Ford Galaxy, but he used to have a Ford Shelby.

The hardest to paint was the Ford van, from the early 1960s, Bob Larson said. The Mustang was the most fun to create. The Ford Falcon was completed last and done in a single day. Overall it took working nights for about a week last year to complete the entire project. Bob Larson said he'd like to create more characters if he gets a chance.

This isn't the only holiday that gets decorations, Larson also puts out Peanuts characters for Halloween.

KELLY HUMPHREY may be reached at kelly.humphrey@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5869. Follow her at www.twitter.com/KellyHumphrey2 on Twitter.

Growing up in the Brainerd lakes area I realized that I never wanted to leave, so it is a true blessing that I was able to find a job at the Dispatch doing something I love. As a visual journalist, I work in the mediums of photography and videography to bring our readers everything from sports, hard news, weather and local events to slice of life documentation of our coverage area.
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