Residents have created a Christmas wonderland in Huntsville.
The Christmas wonderland light display is back at 1237 19th Street, located across the street from Sam Houston’s Family Home, has been a destination for Christmas light enthusiast for years.
Kerry Ford began lighting up the Huntsville area nine years ago, with help from his sisters Laura and Melissa Lewis and friend, Christopher Windham teaming up yearly to bring joy to the area. Ford also gets help from his mom, Charlotte Ford, his stepfather, Allen Ellison and a few good friends like Windham, William Cummings and James Cliff.
“As a child I grew up helping my great-grandmother and Great-Grandfather decorate for basically every holiday,” Ford said. “I can remember how grand their displays were every year, and that is what inspired me to continue the family tradition.
“It all started with some hand-me-down decorations that I received from my family, and each year the display grows larger and larger. I have been decorating my current home since I moved to Huntsville nine years ago.”
The display features 60,000 lights, 71 inflatables, 25 blow molds and 17 wood cutouts for visitors to enjoy.
“This year I added about $500 in led lights and inflatables,” Ford added. “I also had a big wooden sleigh donated and I set up a place for people to take pictures.”
Many challenges faced Ford and the team in the setting up of the display, however, this was not going to stop them.
“The weather has been so unpredictable with all of the rain, and that is why it has taken so long to complete the display this year,” Ford said. “Normally I can have everything up in about three weekends, with about four or five people helping. My mother and sister along with a few friends help out when they can. I spent over 80 man hours just myself working on the weekends and after work when I can.”
Despite such an elaborate display, Ford has managed to keep the costs and energy down.
“To date, I have put thousands of dollars into the Christmas decorations,” Ford said. “Each year, I try and invest in more energy-efficient lighting. The electricity bill for December runs about $600, with a normal electric bill runs about $100 a month.”
Dozens of man hours and cost are not deterrents to Ford. The joy it brings to the many visitors makes it all worth it.
“There are several hundred cars that drive by and a hundred or so get out and walk around and take pictures on any given night,” Ford added. “The community support is amazing. Everyone who stops says how beautiful the display is, and how much joy they feel when they see it. I have actually had people stop by and tell me that they are from out of town and heard about the display from friends, and had to come check it out for themselves. Many community members stop here to take their yearly family Holiday portraits.”
Family and the community support drive Ford’s hard work to keep creating a better and better display every year.
“I decorate for the holidays to continue my family tradition and to bring joy to the community during the holidays,” Ford said. “The reaction and smiles from community members is what drives me to continue the tradition year after year. It is such a joy to see the smiles on the faces of those who come to view the display. Christmas is a time for giving, and this is my way to give back to my community that has shown so much gratitude for the work that I do to brighten up the holidays.”
This year candy canes will be provided to visitors on Christmas Eve. To keep the display going each year, the community can donate to the Ford family at the display or through their Facebook page by searching ChristmasWonderlandinHuntsville.
“People give what they can,” Ford said. “It may not be much, but what is given is so appreciated. I use the donations to help with the added expenses necessary to run such an elaborate display. Besides the increase in electric costs, I also spend about $900 per year on storage alone. Last year I received about $140 in donations.”
Christmas Wonderland will be displayed through Dec. 31, from 5-9 p.m. weekdays and from 5-10 p.m. on the weekends.