You can’t miss the house on 24th and Washington — the one with the entirety of its vast front yard devoted to a Christmas display. Bill Bones is the man to thank for this extensive and time consuming operation. Bones is a Terre Haute native, but he lives in Indianapolis, where he works as a building contractor for a real estate company. However, he displays his decorating prowess at his folks home here. Bones spends a lot of time putting the extensive holiday display up and coordinating the light show. It takes about 30 days to get it fully operational, and it stays up until New Years, weather permitting.
According to Bill it truly is a labor of love. There are no monetary returns to him for his hard work. But their are significant returns in other ways. A canned food drive is set up out front. Anyone can drop off food and all of it goes to the food pantry on 14th and Chesnut. Bill said his family has always decorated the house and yard for Christmas, so it is something that is really important to him. He also fondly remembers the famous Miller Drive where the lights spread across several yards and the traffic backed up on 25th Street.
Bones has been putting out his extensive Christmas display for five years, and has also decorated the yard for Halloween for the last four years. This puts him on a tight schedule to get one down and the other up on time. Bones says the the Halloween display may have more of a “Wow” factor, and sometimes garners more food for the drive because of the milder weather. Still, he doesn’t think you can beat the beauty of Christmas, especially seeing how excited the kids are.
“There is so much going on, even I don’t notice things”.
Standing in the middle of the display is a bit awe inspiring. From that vantage point, you can better see the hard work that went into Bill Bones’s brilliant Christmas display. Most of the structures that sing are built by hand and each song takes 20-30 hours to program with the lights. The maze of extension cords and number of plugs is unbelievable. Each white box contains 120 plugs. The mega tree is made up of 64 strands of lights. A good deal of financial outlay also goes into this Christmas extravaganza. The controllers cost five hundred dollars each and ten grand has been put into extension cords. Surprisingly, Bill says that his electric bill is not too outrageous since not all the lights are on at the same time and only flash for short periods of time to the music. He also recently switched to using LED lights. You might expect there to have been some kind of vandalism in the years that Bones has hosted this display, but he said there has been none.
“The neighbors keep a pretty vigilant eye out,” he told us. “Sometimes they call up and I have to say ‘It’s all right. That was just me out there working.'”
He “despises” both putting the display up and taking it down but loves the reaction that it brings. Friends and neighbors help as much as they can, although it can be very tricky to coordinate where every plug and structure goes with a lot of hands involved. To avoid this chaos he uses a spreadsheet so people know exactly what goes where. “There is so much going on, even I don’t notice things”. Every year Bones adds more characters to the yard and more songs to the list. New this year is a singing Santa, snowman, and 3 elves and there are now 11 songs to listen to. Drop by sometime before New Year’s to see this amazing Christmas light show, and be sure to bring your canned foods with you. You won’t be disappointed.
Colleen Daum is from Fishers, Indiana, but currently lives in Terre Haute. She graduated in August of 2013 from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with Bachelors degrees in psychology and in studio art. Her passion is in the visual arts and she contributes photography and other skills in visual media to the spectator. She enjoys First Fridays and long walks down the Wabash, as well as exploring the many crevices of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods campus.