By Charles Petty
There are a great many holiday traditions that make up a community: Christmas caroling, midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and the tree in the heart of downtown, just to name a few.
For Michael and Misty Mashburn, who live at the corner of Westwood Drive and Holiday Road in Sanford, their contribution to the community Christmas spirit is lights — lots and lots of lights.
The Mashburns have a soft spot for all things that twinkle and shine. For over 13 years, the family has been stringing up lights from every corner of their home to brighten up their neighborhood with holiday cheer.
“My wife and I both grew up going to see Christmas lights with our families. We have been inspired by neighbors who have for years been putting out festive decorations for the community to enjoy,” Michael said. “For us, we see the joy it brings to others and the fun it is to become creative — spreading Christmas joy and love through lights brings us a lot of happiness.”
Another element to the Mashburns’ display is an ever-growing cast of inflatables that populate the yard, from Frosty the Snowman to Santa and his reindeer, as well as an alligator band which features banjo music. The collection has swelled to about 60 in recent years and is a particular favorite of the kids.
This year’s display began immediately following Thanksgiving. Michael Mashburn offered some words of wisdom for any who want to undertake an effort to put on a big Christmas light display.
“I’m very particular about where cords and wires are put. The biggest thing is don’t become too attached about where lights are and what display you may originally want to put up,” he said. “We had a lovely, 11-foot-tall singing snowman that was our pride and joy. One year, it quit working and we couldn’t find the technical function replacements for it. Don’t become too attached to any of the items, learn to go with the flow.”
The pile-up of cars around the Mashburns’ driveway is always a sure sign of holiday light gazers. Misty Mashburn even recalls one year when she became part of that holiday rush.
“I flew home from a work trip to Boston – it was early evening when I arrived home,” she said. “The line was so long for the light display that I had to sit in line to be able to get into the garage.”
The Mashburns have come to cherish their holiday tradition and the happiness it brings those in the community. This year they will be running their usual display the entire month of December and hope that the public can ride by and enjoy the sights and sounds of their Christmas-themed front yard.
The Farley Family of 95 Farley Road in Cameron (just a few miles south of Sanford, between U.S. 1 and N.C. 87) provide a free Christmas lights show in front of their home beginning at 6 p.m. each night throughout December.
Their display is home to a “premiere synchronized light show” with more than 9,000 individually addressable LEDs and special effects to go along with music. The family also did a similar show for Halloween this year.
This year’s Christmas show will feature a “Disney Night” every Friday. To get the full effect, tune in to 92.7 FM on the radio in front of the display and watch the lights sync with the music.
To learn more about the Farley Family Lights, visit their Facebook page, @FarleyFamilyLights.
WHERE TO SEE MORE LIGHTS IN SANFORD
There aren’t a ton of neighborhoods in our city that get together to purposely wow the local citizens, but there are several homes and businesses around Sanford that would do Clark Griswold proud. Below are a few of our favorites.
Carolina Women’s Fitness
Interactive fun — three spots outside of the gym on Center Church Road in Tramway where you can drive up, turn your dial to the FM station posted in front of those lights and watch them blink and play along with the music. The highlight is the reindeer quartet singing Christmas songs.
David and Kay Ward’s house on Carbonton Road is also a wonderland of Christmas lights and inflatables, and it’s worth slowing the traffic behind you to take it in. They’re also starting to go all out for Halloween and Thanksgiving, too.
Don Perry’s magnificent display (near the Mashburns in the Westlake Valley area) has been around for years, and Perry continues to add to his collection of lights and blow-ups.
Mockingbird Lane, in the Quail Ridge community, has several homes that do pretty well when it comes to lights. It’s one of the few local neighborhoods where they seem to try to outdo each other.
A few years ago, Downtown Sanford Inc. and the City of Sanford joined in to light up downtown’s Depot Park with lights surrounding the square and the depot building, and moving lights on the train. It’s certainly worth a stop or a drive-by during your lights search.
The Mashburn’s have really put on a great Christmas display. Thank you!