FORT LORAMIE — ‘Tis the season to be jolly. A drive, sometime after Thanksgiving, by Tony Bornhorst’s property near Fort Loramie, will surely ignite your holiday spirit.
Around 37,000 lights illuminate the outside of Bornhorst’s property on Brandewie Road through Christmas and into January.
“For a while there, my sons would tease me about being Clarke (Griswold; a character in the movie “Christmas Vacation”), and so I would stay under 25,000. And then about four or five years ago, we finally went over the 25,000,” Bornhorst said with a big smile. “The thing is, as the trees grow, you need to get to the top.”
Although the Bornhorsts have lived at their residence for 39 years, it was only about five years ago Tony and his wife Joyce really amped up their outdoor light display.
“I like being outside, so that’s not a problem. I don’t start until after Thanksgiving. I have everything up two weeks before Christmas,” he said of decorating for his favorite holiday.
The ritual doesn’t always occur on a specific day, he said. But typically, the outside is decorated solely by Tony, while his wife decorates the inside by herself, other than a little help with their 10-foot tree in the family room.
Decking the halls begins on a Saturday morning on the inside the house during the Ohio State football game. After the game, they put on “Christmas Vacation” and then “A Christmas Carol,” with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge, while assembling the tree branches and putting on the lights. After that part is completed, Joyce continues decorating the inside, and Tony begins his work on the outside. His method is to set up a staging area in the garage for laying out all of his supplies and decorations on tables before getting to work.
“I have a Santa Clause (outside) that’s dressed as an OSU football player, and I got a Christmas pig with a Santa hat. I got lights up front. There’s lights in the back. We have an outline of the house, with icicle lights. We do a lot of the bushes. I got a nativity set of what I call the ‘Three Kings and the Savior.’ There are four trees out there that is a blockage for the livestock buildings for a wind break. So the center one is clear and the three are the three kings around it. And there is a set of deer out there that is woven out of grape vines with lights in them. And then we got a peppermint tree, that has one swirl strand of clear as far as I can go up, about 20-some feet up in the air. And then two strands of red that goes on like peppermint. And that’s up in the front yard,” he explained.
He said it takes about 40 hours over a two-week period to get the outside decorated. All of the lights are non-LED, as the Bornhorsts prefer the glow of regular lights.
“Joyce does the same thing on the inside. She has four trees on the inside. I put one in the basement; it’s just there for the grandkids. We have five kids and 15 grandkids,” Bornhorst said. “I think there is like maybe 1,000 ornaments (for the tree). But we have to put the top eight or nine rows of bulbs on first and then put (the top part of the tree) up and then put the bottom rows on.”
They have fun with decorating for Christmas, he said, and is good exercise to get the holiday spirit kicked off.
“I do the high icicle lights up on the top line of the house first as soon as I have the opportunity, because you never know when it might snow. Once those are done, then everything else (can be put up) between my ladder and my jig pole. It’s light weight; about 14-foot, and it really helps. Some of the (lights) look really perfect, and then you have that first 40 mph wind, and then it adjusts and doesn’t quiet look as good,” he said with a chuckle.
When asked what the neighbors think, he recalled a story a couple of years ago when children who live a few streets over ask their parents to drive by and take the long way to their destination to see his house. After retiring from driving a school bus for 28 1/2 years, he noted that he still “miss the kids.”
“It is kind of neat to see the cars slow down. People do say they really enjoy going by. The grandkids that live close pay attention to how it’s getting along because I have a certain way, starting with the lights up on the house. And there’s a big wreath up on the chimney with a bow and wreaths on the other front windows; some of those are lit up and some just have bows, and we decorate the light pole.”
The decorations are traditional, and are symbolic for the Christian holiday. The outside decorations also include a Mary Grotto, lit up in blue; the two sets of trees out back, as the “Three Kings and the Savior”; and on the “peppermint tree” in the front, the white lights represent the purity of Jesus, and the red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed, he explained.
“It’s a good reminder of the reason for the season,” he said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.