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Annual display delights visitors

Lights on a moving mini Ferris wheel and carousel draw addedattention to the Mulford family homes’ holiday display on Old RedStar Road.

The wheel and carousel weren’t made to be ridden, but familymembers are no less proud of this year’s additions to the annualdisplay that stretches across three yards.

“Those are the newest items this year,” said Wanda Hallman.

Each year, Wanda and her husband Ken, twin sister Linda and herhusband David Schoendorf and the girls’ parents Donald and LucilleMulford welcome visitors to come see the holiday display and visitwith Santa on certain nights.

Wanda said the family started their display 18 years ago afterher son, Dewayne Branning, was born. Today, Linda’s children, CodieMcCullough, 10, and Kelsie McCullough, 7, also pitch in to helperect the display.

Years ago, family members said they enjoyed going to see theBrister family’s holiday display in the Enterprise community.Following that lead, they began their own holiday tradition.

“Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Wanda said.

“And every year is different, too,” Linda said.

The display includes thousands of lights and hundreds ofhomemade wooden snowmen, cartoon characters, Nativity scene figuresand other holiday symbols.

“Everything out here is made,” Donald Mulford said. “We make thepattern and the product and we paint it.”

Family members were unable to put an exact number on how manyitems are on display.

“Last year we counted 600 and something,” Mulford said. “There’sprobably 800 pieces out here.”

Family members start in the summer considering what new itemsneed to be made and which existing ones need to be replaced. Theystart setting out the display right after Halloween.

“We have them up and ready by Thanksgiving night to turn on,”Linda said.

Each year brings opportunities for new additions and differentideas for display.

“We try to keep up with the current cartoon characters for thekids,” Mulford said.

The cartoon characters have a home in Toonville. The areafeatures everything from superheroes to Garfield to the M&Mmascots to Shrek and Spongebob Squarepants and friends.

“This right here is what makes the kids happy,” Lucille Mulfordsaid.

Toonville is one of three main areas of the display. Others arethe Winter Wonderland, with snowmen and reindeer, and the Nativityarea, featuring both black and white and full color scenes.

Returning this year are several patriotic items, including onewith the MIA-POW logo. Family members said the patriotic displayswere in honor of soldiers serving in Iraq.

“We had it a couple of years ago, but redid it this year and putsome more out,” David Schoendorf said.

Ken Hallman said the Ferris wheel and carousel were things hehad wanted to do earlier, but did not have the time. This year, thefamily started a little early and accomplished their goal.

“It took everybody’s help to get that together,” Wanda said.

Santa Claus visits on Saturday nights and on Friday and Saturdaynights the weekend before Christmas. Mulford said 45 children cameby the first Saturday this year.

A sign welcoming visitors says display hours are from 7 p.m. to9 p.m., but Mulford said he sometimes turns the lights on as earlyas 5:30 p.m.

“I’ve had people waiting down at the voting house for me to turnthem on,” Mulford said.

Mulford said there is no admission charge, visitors are invitedto take pictures and walk through the display area. Fridays,Saturdays, and Sundays are popular viewing times.

“On weekends we have people lined up on the side of the roadlooking at it,” David Schoendorf said.

The display remains in place through New Year’s. Family memberssaid it takes about two days to take the display down.

“That’s the easy part,” Linda said.

With thousands of miniature lights and larger ones to illuminatethe area, family members chuckled about the electricity bill. Whilethey did not offer a total, they said the costs are shared betweenthe three family homes.

“It’s worth it when you see the smiles on the faces,” Wandasaid.