A Van Buren couple renowned for their Christmas light show will offer it for free to the public for the 23rd year in a row.
Richard and Helen Hodo will turn on their Christmas lights Thursday, Thanksgiving night, at their home at 1205 Woodland Creek Circle, off Azure Hills.
“The good thing about it, is it’s free,” Richard Hodo said. “It seems like everything costs so much everywhere you go. This is our way to give back to the community. My wife and I always say, this is our Christmas card to the community.”
As part of their annual lights show, the Hodos have more than 150,000 energy saving LED lights arranged across their expansive yard.
Included in the display will be a 14-feet by 18-feet lit American flag in the pine trees near the Hodos’ home, and three 50-foot Christmas trees.
Santa will be back this year, greeting visitors on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, and every subsequent Friday and Saturday during the lights show to give out candy canes.
An old-fashioned sleigh has been included in the show so both kids and parents can get photographs with Santa, Hodo said. Santa is available on Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m. for photographs.
Santa’s mailbox from two years ago also will be up again this year. Children can write letters to Santa to put in the mailbox, but a return address must be included for the child to get a reply.
Classics from previous years will again be a part of this year’s show, including the Grinch in jail, a gingerbread house, a giant snowman and scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.
A patriotic theme for the Christmas show will continue, as well, with the inclusion of patriotic music and a salute to the branches of the military, Hodo said.
Lights for the show begin going up the second week of October each year, Hodo said. Raymond Harvey with Turf-Pro USA puts up the lights, while Charlie Ryan programs the musical accompaniment.
Christmas music will play on radio frequency 105.5 FM and is synchronized to the lights show. This is the 14th year music has accompanied the show.
People come from around the area, and even other states, to see the show, Hodo said.
“We have people who grew up seeing it, and now they bring their kids,” Hodo said.
The holiday display will be available for viewing from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday until Dec. 27, Hodo said.
Those who wish to take more time to view the display can pull out of the way to allow traffic to keep moving, but the Hodos ask that everyone stay in their cars for safety.
“We encourage everyone to take their time and don’t get in a rush to see everything,” Hodo said. “Just enjoy the Christmas season and be courteous.”
About 12,000 cars drive through the display each year. To find the lights show, just turn on Pointer Trail by Walgreens Pharmacy and follow the signs.
In Alma, Community Outreach Center will host a lighting ceremony for Lights in the Park at the Alma City Park on Friday.
This year the event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and include Santa, carolers singing Christmas songs and hay rides around the display.
Center volunteers also will be serving cookies, candy canes and hot chocolate.
While entry is free, donations of canned food or cash will be accepted at the entry to the display. The annual lights display is the largest yearly fundraiser for the Outreach Center, which provides food and necessities for area people in need.
Alma’s lights show will be open through Dec. 25, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night.