Common Ground: Christmas display a labor of love for Ballards
Thursday, December 20, 2012
I did not fully appreciate how much time, energy and money goes into the Christmas displays around our community until Scott Ballard invited me to take the cook’s tour his spectacular exhibit at 214 Poplar St.
What drives Scott and his wife Maryann to undertake the Herculean effort is a desire to share the message of faith and also to help people in the community connect with their memories of Christmas.
Ballard, who with his brother Shawn owns and operates Ballard Ambulance, started building his display in the early 1990s. He takes a substantial amount of time off each November to unwrap, unravel and prepare the lights and temporary display buildings that house an array of Christmas figures.
The display is impressive. There’s a grinch swooping down from the roof of the house and a sleigh dancing across the shingles and, of course, thousands of lights adorning the house and trees large and small. A tiny train with a host of figurines circles a small Christmas tree on the front porch. They have a wood fire burning in a kettle in their driveway.
On weekends, they serve hot chocolate and give out candy canes.
The whole display is stunning, but it’s also a lot of work. When lights go out, he has to replace them with strings that match, which require some creative shopping and a lot of time. And then there’s the daily maintenance that goes with having a Christmas display. And then there’s the security system he has set up which allows him to monitor the displays throughout the night. When he hears noises, he’s off to investigate to make sure that his display stays intact. Then, of course, there’s the time that it takes to take down the display. He counted the hours one year and it totaled more than 50.
It’s all worth it for Ballard when the youngsters and adults show up to admire the work and catch the spirit of Christmas.
Ballard says this may be the last hurrah for the display. He’s in need of some shoulder surgery this winter and that may make it difficult to continue. Also, he admits it’s physically challenging to put up, maintain and take down the display in slippery conditions each winter.
Our web site has a wonderful list of Christmas displays that can be found at http://contests.wenatcheeworld.com/2012-christmas-lighting-guide/.
My hat is off to the Ballards and all of the other families that put so much into this effort for the simple joy of helping people catch the spirit of Christmas.
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