Christmas was always a big holiday for Michael Huss’ family when he was growing up. Now, at age 29, he keeps that theme going with a holiday display at his home at 521 W. Maple St., Valley View.
“When I was young, my family would drive us around to see the big displays and enjoy all the lights,” he said.
He said an aunt who has since passed away was really big into Christmas.
“She would always come in from Virginia to celebrate with the family and always loved looking at light displays. My cousin, who just passed away, would always have the entire family over for Christmas and we would always have a Christmas party. It really kept the bond of family together,” Huss said.
When Huss and his wife, Kelly, bought their home in 2012, they started with 300 lights and one inflatable Christmas figure. The display has since grown to 75,000 lights, 69 inflatables and more than 150 yard figurines dancing to more than 500 songs.
“My mother, Debra, my sister, Lee Ann, and daughter, Ayla, help with the decorating. My wife and mother-in-law, Cindy, help with our Santa events, along with other volunteers,” Huss said.
Despite the display taking a lot of money and time, the Huss family sees it as a way to give back to the community. Each year, donations collected at the display are given to a charity.
“Each June, we ask for recommendations on our Facebook page for local charities who could really use the money. Once we check into these charities to make sure they are local and the money will stay local, we try to find out where we think we could do the most help,” Huss said. “After that, we put it up to a vote in July on our Facebook page, which helps to get the charities involved and brings more people to the display.”
This year’s charity is Mikaylee’s Hope, a 501c3 nonprofit that comforts those who have lost a child due to still birth, SIDS or miscarriage. All money raised will help pay for shipping costs on care packages to affected families and more Cuddle Cots for local hospitals. This year’s display is also dedicated to all lives lost, including those due to COVID-19.
The display takes about 500 man hours to set up and about a month and 300 man hours to tear down.
“We start setting up the display the first weekend of September and usually finish the first or second week of November,” Michael said.
According to Huss, the community’s favorite part, with the most feedback, is the comedy angle of the display, such as the Santa Outhouse inflatable. For him, the display as a whole is his favorite part.
“Watching something start from nothing and come to life after the hard work that’s put in is a great morale booster, and I’m glad I get to do it with my family because it’s something we created together,” he said. “We have gotten so much feedback from the community and put so many smiles on families’ faces it’s overwhelming, and it keeps us going.
“We go out shopping in our community and we are always asked ‘When will you be starting the display?’ ‘Are you still going to do the display this year?’ ‘My child can’t wait to come see the display,’ and it really keeps us motivated,” he added.
Huss told how one child came to visit with grandparents before the display was finished because he waited all year for it.
“We had another child last year that didn’t want to leave once they came, and it’s that kind of childhood that we enjoy creating in children, especially in today’s world, and it rings even truer this year with COVID-19 and the stress that a lot of kids are feeling,” Huss said.
The display runs from 5 to 9 p.m. daily through Dec. 31, weather permitting. On Saturdays and Sundays, the display dances to music, and, on Christmas Eve, it is lit all night to guide Santa’s sleigh.
After Christmas, the music is turned off and there is a different theme every night, such as Military Appreciation Night. Santa events will be held Dec. 12 and 19, with rain dates of Dec. 13 and 20.
Parking is located at Trinity Lutheran Church on Maple Street and a hayride shuttles guests back and forth to the display. This year, with COVID-19, Huss said they are not requiring guests to wear a mask, although it is encouraged, and a waiver must be signed to enter the Santa events.
“We want to thank everyone in the community for visiting over the years and for their support. We also want to thank those who have volunteered over the years to help us put on our Santa events for the community, and we look forward to seeing everyone soon!” Huss said.
For more information, visit Huss Family Christmas Light Display on Facebook.
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