Retired Christmas displays from Las Vegas Strip revived by local Drag Brunch team

Updated: Dec. 16, 2022 at 12:16 AM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Retired Christmas displays from the Las Vegas Strip have been restored and revived for the public to see in larger-than-life creations, thanks to the team from the Drag Brunch Show at Treasure Island.

Bryan Watkins, known by his stage name Shannel, headlines the Drag Brunch show at Senor Frog’s. Although his passion and career are in show business, Ru Paul’s Drag Race TV show alum has always had a love of Christmas.

“I spend probably almost every day of the year thinking about, working on finding, buying, repairing, installing, planning Christmas,” Watkins said, whose family always scraped by to give him a wonderful Christmas despite not having the means.

Watkins has always decorated his home inside and outside, participating in displays for his whole neighborhood to enjoy. Recently, he has amassed quite the wealth of items, amounting to 4,700 square feet of Christmas decor: 100,000 Christmas ornaments, 1,000 Santas, three miles of extension cords, 600,000 Christmas lights and 150 Christmas trees, as well as dozens of retired gigantic displays and animatronics from places like the Bellagio and beyond.

Last year, over a months-long, round-the-clock process, Watkins, his manager Chelsea, a tailor from Drag Brunch and various other creative minds put together a huge display on their front lawn for entry into the Great Christmas Light Fight show, and won. Every inch of their house was decorated in various themes.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how much work it was. But through all that, the blood, sweat and tears of it, I kept thinking to myself, the joy that this is going to bring people,” Watkins said. Five thousand neighbors visited and toured the home.

Rather than dealing with a headache from the HOA this year, who he battled with over the ginormous displays, he decided to bring his creations into the community with a new venture: Santa’s Helper Designs, creating displays for various homes, businesses, malls, and even Allegiant Stadium.

Watkins explains how his experience in show business helps him and his team create quite the Christmas show for people to enjoy.

“As an artist as a female impersonator, I am able to transform Bryan into Shannel, through artistry, makeup, smoke and mirrors. And it’s kind of the same thing with interior design, as well as Christmas: you’re taking a blank canvas and you’re starting over, and you’re sprinkling some magical Christmas dust,” he said.

“Christmas to me is something that, no matter how difficult the economy is, no matter what we’re dealing with in the world, there’s always going to be Christmas,” he said.