One obvious sign of the season is especially noticeable after the sun goes down. From Flemington to Walthourville, colorful lights and decor line both sides of Oglethorpe Highway. Motorists who venture down a side street into most any neighborhood are sure to see homes and yards aglow with bulbs of silver, gold, red, blue and green.
It’s hard to miss one home in particular on Dunlevie Road in Allenhurst, where a giant white reindeer — tiny red nose shining bright — is illuminated by hundreds of blue and white lights. An even larger display can be found on Ga. Highway 57 in Townsend.
Jerry and Gloria Braxton’s extra-large yard has been a sight to behold every December since the early 1990s. Most evenings, cars loaded with families turn off the main highway onto Steel Bridge Road and move slowly past the house, giving little ones a chance to gape in amazement. The ooohs, aaahs and excited exclamations can be heard inside the Braxton’s two-story farmhouse. It’s a sound that Gloria Braxton said warms her heart and motivates her to put up her light display every year.
“I enjoy the children,” Braxton said. “You should hear the children when the cars go by. It’s a blessing for me to mess with those lights.”
The over-the-top exhibit includes brightly lit Christmas trees, Santas, reindeer, a snowman, an extra-large stocking, hands folded in prayer, a church with a steeple, manger scenes, wise men and a cross. In an upper-floor window, another large Santa waves at passing cars. The Braxton’s colorful display spans several acres and, according to the couple, is designed to delight viewers of all ages.
Jerry Braxton said it takes his wife “most of an hour” just to turn on all the lights every evening and then turn them off the next morning. He said it takes her about a week to get the display set up — something he’s no longer able to help with since undergoing cancer treatment.
“I used to help her, but I’m not able to anymore,” he said. “She’s been putting up those lights every December for about 20 years now. She usually takes them down after the first of the year. And yeah, it does make the (electric) bill go up quite a bit, but she loves doing it.”
As she looks forward to her 75th birthday next week, Gloria Braxton said she knows a day will come when she won’t be able to do it; however, she said she’s not sure if she can afford to quit.
“I have so much invested in it,” Braxton said. “You can’t just quit it. Some of these displays — like the large stocking display — were very expensive. You know, we put up the light display at the corner of the road, too. We used to put out luminaries on both sides of the road. We started out much smaller than it is now. It grew bit by bit. Each year, I added more and more.”
She and her husband used to buy Christmas lights and other display pieces whenever they traveled, especially during trips to Tennessee and Florida.
Braxton is not even toying with the idea of “pulling the plug” on her light exhibit. She said too many people look forward to seeing it each year. The couple even hosted an open house last Saturday night, inviting people in to see the interior of their festively decorated home. Churches sometimes bring bus loads of passengers by the Braxton house to see the light display, she said.
“You have to enjoy things in life,” Gloria Braxton said. “At my age, you have to keep busy, and I do. Doing the Christmas lights each year is as much a blessing to me as it is to the people who see it.”