MERIDIAN — Doug and Sandy Appleman were in line for a ride at Walt Disney World in Florida when a stranger noticed their grandson’s Cato Meridian School District sweatshirt.
“Is that where there are houses with lights?” asked the stranger.
The Appleman family’s reputation for lavishly decorating their Meridian Village home for Christmas has spread far and wide. Every year since the 1970s, when the couple moved into their Main Street home, they’ve done their best to spread the Christmas spirit with large-scale lights and decorative displays.
Doug said the exhibit includes at least 10,000 lights and 75 to 100 individual decorations, from toy soldiers around a cannon Doug made to a nativity scene and lots of Santas. is estimated to be on display.
They began decorating their home soon after moving in 1977 and continued to add displays over the years as their two children grew. But rather than buying more new items, Doug still uses the classic plastic-molded decorations he first made and hand-paints them himself if modifications are needed.
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On the rare occasion that decorations need to be replaced, the Applemans prefer to find old-style replacements at garage sales.
Over the years, gifts have also become somewhat common. Once, a woman came to Appleman’s with a few candles to add to the display. She said they belonged to her mother, who used to come to see the Appleman family illuminations every year, and that she wanted to add them to her collection when her mother passed away.
It’s worth the effort, the couple said, as each year the Applemans’ mailbox fills with letters of appreciation from visitors, especially their children.
“It’s allowed us to continue doing this work,” Doug said. “As long as someone’s child enjoys it, it’s worth it.”
Usually in mid-November, Doug begins the long process of taking the displays out of the shed or attic and setting them up. He said that if possible, he would like to have everything ready by December 1st, but this year he could be delayed depending on the weather, such as heavy snowfall in November.
Doug talks about the process like an expert. All lighting and decorations are checked before the display is taken down and stored. Wires and extension cords create a maze on the lawn. Also, the wattage of the bulbs is checked and clusters of different lights are kept on on timers to balance the electrical load.
“We can probably guess that he worked for the power company,” Sandy said with a laugh.
While Doug is outside, Sandy is busy preparing an equally elaborate Christmas village display inside the house.
“This is my baby. I love my village,” he says, hopping over two tiers of miniature Dickensian characters and displays, a moving train, and lots of Disney decorations. , said Sandy.
Sandy said the couple’s grandchildren, ages 2, 3, 4 and 5, especially love the village. However, children who come to view the outdoor exhibits are encouraged to come inside and view the exhibits.
Before the decorations are finished (which can be from January until Easter, depending on the weather), the Applemans like to have a “snowman party” with friends and family on New Year’s Day, where everyone gathers under the lights. Make a snowman. Next, snacks and snacks.
Due to the lack of snow these past few years, I haven’t been able to actually build a snowman, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do it again as the big milestone approaches.
“After 50 years of marriage, I wish we could do it again,” Sandy said.
Gallery: Meridian couple’s Christmas has been going on for over 40 years