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Lights for the holiday

At the end of the road leading into River Oaks Subdivision, you will find what looks like a wonderland of lights—approximately 30,000.

Lighting all those lights up are more than a mile of extension cords.

And putting all the hard work and paying the $200 extra for electricity are Gary and Beverly Woodams, and Deanna Cross.

There is the manger scene with the countless sheep; there’s Santa Claus on the rooftop; the ice palace with a bear and snowman; the fisherman on one of the Woodams’ boats; the helicopter; more snowmen including one with a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes to Christmas; numerous Christmas trees, some that light up to the rhythm of music, and a lighted archway.

Inside the Woodams’ house is a big Christmas tree and a beautiful village, which includes a fishing village that Beverly said is dedicated to her father, who was a fisherman from Florida.

“I’m a big kid at Christmas time,” Beverly said. “We try to have a new scene each year.”

Added to the collection of decorations recently are the North Pole scene and the Christmas trees that light up to the rhythm of music. The trees were made by them from tomato cages.

“We are both from families that did a lot of decorating,” Beverly said.

Gary’s mother, Lorraine Woodam, 83, said her two sons grew up in a house that was always decorated for the holidays.

Gary said his dad would build the decorations and his mother would paint them. In recent years, Gary and his brother, who lives in Florida, would have a bit of sibling rivalry to see who would have the best decorated house for Christmas.

At stake

The Woodams and Cross start preparing the yard and decorations in late October with stakes marking the various locations for their decorations.

Before Thanksgiving, all the decorations are up and the lights and cords are checked for the nightly lighting.

The manger scene, which is in the center of their front yard, was the Woodams’ first scene, and it continues to be their favorite.

They have added approximately 7,000 lights since last year, which has added to their electric bill. They want to change out some of the lights to LED light, which uses less electricity. Presently, their electric bill jumps by almost $200 during December.

Taking down the exhibits also takes time because of the limited storage space at their house.

“It takes a lot of planning to store things,” Gary said.

But don’t count all this trouble and expense out for the Woodams. They enjoy it.

“We got things for next year; we’re planning for next year,” Gary said.

Doing it for others

This year, the couple received a Christmas card from one of their neighbors thanking them for all their work and efforts in decorating their house, and the neighborhood.

A small traffic jam is sometimes created when cars slow to a crawl admiring all their decorations and lights.

When the Woodams and Cross were outside setting up the decorations, neighborhood teenagers driving around in a golf cart applauded them, and a toddler in a car that had slowed to a crawl was overheard with expressions of awe as to what the youngster was seeing.

Sometime, Gary said he likes to just go to the street and look—look at all those lights and the gift he, Beverly and Cross have shared with their neighbors.

“We don’t do it for ourselves,” he said. “We do it for every child or adult who wants to come around and see it.”