Ward gives community gift with 10,000 light Christmas display
Published 9:51 am Friday, December 19, 2014
Christmas presents don’t always come wrapped in ribbons and bows and shiny paper.
Some presents make themselves known with twinkling lights, Christmas displays and even visits from Santa.
For more than 20 years, Buddy Ward has been sharing his Christmas gift to the community with a massive light display at his home on Honeycutt Street in Valley Forge.
The light display started as a family affair with Ward and his grandmother, and has now grown to more than 10,000 lights.
Because the light display has been a part of the community for decades, viewing it has become a tradition for many families.
“I have people who will stop and say they came as children and now they are bringing their kids,” Ward said.
Each year, Ward places a guest book in a lighted display box at the edge of his yard near the street. Visitors are encouraged to stop and sign the book and leave a message if they want.
Since his light display was officially started on Thanksgiving night, Ward estimates around 75 people have signed the book while many others have simply driven by to take in the festive scene.
Most of the people signing the guest book opted to leave a message for Ward praising his holiday spirit.
“Thank you so much for your Christmas cheer,” one visitor wrote.
“Seems like nobody has the Christmas spirit anymore,” wrote another. “Thank you for letting my daughter see/experience the joy you have for Christmas.”
Ward takes the experience a little further for some visitors. On Wednesday, Thursday and tonight, Ward dresses as Santa to greet the children who come by his home.
“I had one who came by last night who talked to me for a while,” he said. “I have never had anyone to hug me that hard before. It makes you feel good to see the kids so happy. It is a little shocking to me. I didn’t think I could do it. I don’t know what I was scared of.”
To put that kind of light show together, Ward starts working months ahead of time. He starts working on lights putting the lights in place in September to make sure they will be ready in time for their Thanksgiving night debut.
The light display still includes the same manger scene his grandmother purchased 35 years ago.
“It sits where it has always been,” Ward said.
Along one edge of the yard sits the miniature Christmas village. On the other side of the manger scene is the Christmas carnival scene that Ward mostly built himself.
“It started with a popcorn machine,” Ward said. “I needed something to go with it, so I built the swings. That led to the carousel. It just kept growing from there.”
Ward’s light display will likely continue to remain a part of his community for years to come.
“It is fun,” he said. “Every year I say it is the last year I am doing it, but I’ve been saying that for 10 years. Everyone enjoys it. I’ll see people and they’ll ask when it will start. I can’t quit when everyone seems to like it.”
Ward will leave his lights on until New Year Eve and then he’ll start the process of taking them all back down again.