In the Tri-County, there's plenty to deck

Dec. 25, 2013 @ 06:38 PM

Some people have Christmas decorating down to a science. They go all out to the enjoyment of many driving by.

Two Henderson-area households that are big on decorating indicate they developed the tradition over time as their hobby grew in meaning and expression.

Teresa Stainback said her collection of outdoor Santas, stars, snowmen, carolers and nativity scene characters displayed on Vicksboro Road grew from a discovery about 10 years ago.

“The very first one I got was while we were still living in the mountains,” she said. “That was about 10 years ago. We found a 40-inch Santa.”

She was impressed by the authenticity of an older-fashioned look of the big shiny Santa that is unlike the inflatable ones of today.

“I just keep collecting different ones,” Stainback said. “They range from about 12 inches high to about 40 inches. Actually, I have a five-foot Santa I found at an auction sale. They were very popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

“I get very enthused about finding a new one,” she added. “They all are the kind that light up. I enjoy it. I like them a lot more than the inflatable decorations.”

Lighting up her yard takes several dozen outdoor plugs that stem from a secondary electrical system she had developed.

“I even had to add a breaker box,” Stainback said.

Helping Stainback is her sister, Betty Williams, who said she enjoys assisting with the hobby and seeing the attention from people passing by. Many stop for photos and ask about the decorations.

“They are all the old-fashioned blow-molds,” Williams said. “They are shiny, well lit at night. She started with two or three, and it just grew.”

The grown collection has in years past taken about a week to assemble, but with practice came a quicker cue for arranging everything.

“This year, we probably had it all done in three days,” Stainback said.

At its perch on Shank Street, Alvin Johnson’s Christmas of colors began about 15 years ago, and this year includes a 40-foot tall lighting tree with a shooting star about 100 feet higher above that.

Johnson has a crane in the business he owns.

“I have been constantly adding,” Johnson said. “This year, the shooting star is 140 feet up in the air. You could see it from a mile away easy. I am surprised at how many people have commented on it.”

He even caught some complaints about it being taken down for part of the weekend. It was because of a possible lightning threat, Johnson said. It’s going back up as soon as the weather reports give the all-clear.

Johnson decided to add himself to the decorations about five years ago, donning the gay apparel of jolly old Saint Nick so children can see Santa when they visit.

On that first year, he acted on impulse and surprised kids with a gold-dollar coin each — giving away about 100. This year it’s candy canes, though.

“The Lord has blessed me, so I didn’t mind doing that,” Johnson said. “It was an instantaneous thing, to give those out to the children.”

Also this year, Johnson brought his bucket-truck and crane over to the Vance County Rescue office on Maynard Street, so they could get their lighting tree to drape higher than before, hoisting it up to the 80-foot mark. He also gave them a star to top it off.

“They use their tower for it,” Johnson said. “They brought all those lights, I just helped them out with the crane. I set the crane and sent a man up in the bucket. We put the star on top.”

Johnson said that both he and his wife Alice love the joy of Christmas, and they love sharing that joy — it is seeing others light up that provides him plenty of motivation to put in the hours it takes for his outdoor displays.

Alice Johnson does the inside decorating, sharing the joys of Christmas with friends and family.

“I love people to enjoy them, and I love to hear from them,” he said. “They come by, and that’s my Christmas. I do the Santa thing for the kids, the lights for the enjoyment of all.”

Alvin Johnson said he plans to add an outdoor manger scene next year because he does not want the true meaning of Christmas to become lost in too much shine.

“We wouldn’t have a Christmas if it wasn’t for Christ,” he said. “I just do it for the people to enjoy.”

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.