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Area residents go all out with Christmas lights this season
This year, the manger display returns as one of the Whitey decorations, complete with a baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and three wisemen. - photo by Rebecca Braun

Blue lights projected onto their decorated house makes the Whitey residence look like an underwater winter wonderland.

Herbert and Sheri Whitey have decorated their home and front yard for more 30 years, but it’s not always been in Gainesville.

“We used to live somewhere else,” Herbert Whitey said. “But when we moved here and did it every Christmas, the neighbors started joining in.”

This year, the house across from the Whiteys boasts Christmas decor, as do houses down the road.

“It’s nice that the neighbors have joined in and we’re spreading some Christmas cheer,” Herbert Whitey said. “Recently, we received a postcard in the mail from someone telling us that they liked the decorations. That was fun.”

On the Whitey home at 4309 Oak Creek Drive in Gainesville, all of the lights are brand-new LED. Accompanying them are new moving icicle lights hanging from the rafters, reindeer of all shapes and sizes (including a flashing one) and angels guarding a handmade manger with a sleeping baby Jesus.

“I built the manger for that display years and years ago, and it’s held up all of these years,” Whitey said.

The manger is surrounded by two angels clothed in white light, heralding the birth of Jesus, who is flanked by his mother, Mary, and her husband, Joseph. Joining the trio are the three wise men, a sheep and a donkey.

On a different side of the yard, an inflatable Mr. Grinch and pet dog greet visitors as the first decorations on the Whiteys’ front lawn.

To top it off, the Whiteys have reserved two spots for specific decorations to mark the season.

Santa Claus and his reindeer fly up, up and away from the roof while a neon-red sign states the reason for the season. It simply states: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS”.

- By Rebecca Braun


The presents are wrapped, the tree is decorated, the stockings are hung and so are the lights.

For the past 15 years, J.D. and Syble Brown have created an illuminated display stretching over their land as well as the two ponds at their home on 2773 Dawsonville Highway South in Dahlonega.

The elaborate display started with a few wooden reindeer in the yard.

“Our son-in-law made us a couple of wooden deer, and we’ve tried to add something new every year,” said Syble Brown, who usually purchases decorations from stores in Nashville and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

While no brand-new pieces adorning the lawn this year, the most recent addition is a green, fire breathing dragon. And the Browns never create the same display with their collection accumulated over the years.

“I try to mix it up and move it around so that people think I have more decorations,” Brown said with a laugh. “I try to never have things in the same place.”

The display contains inflatable snowmen, reindeer pulling Santa on a sleigh and a lighted Nativity.

“I like all of my biblical decorations because they have a lot of meaning,” Brown said. “I have a lot of favorite (decorations), but ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ is probably my favorite.”

The Browns usually start decorating around the end of September and gradually work their way up to the finished product which is proudly displayed until the end of December.

“We just really enjoy people stopping by or honking at us as they drive by,” Brown said.

But this year will be the final year the couple erects the elaborate display. The Dahlonega couple in their mid-70s are experiencing health problems, which resulted in their children helping construct the display this year.

“We really couldn’t have done it without them this year because of our declining health,” Brown said.

- By Kayla Canada


In the small city of Lula, Ronny Strong has set up big decorations once again.

For the past 20 years, Strong has displayed his Christmas lights at 4726 Cagle Road. They total more than 30,000 lights and 14 inflatables, making his yard a sight to see.

Besides the fact that he just enjoys doing it, Strong explained the reason he strings the massive amount of lights lies with his family.

“I like them, and I have children and grandchildren that like them, too,” he said.

After seeing the display, many would think it takes weeks to plan. But Strong said it only took him and his daughter and son-in-law, Heather and Seth Edwards, a mere four days to set up.

When asked about safety precautions he had to take, Strong just chuckled.

“We’re pretty dangerous around here,” he said, encouraging all to stop by and see the decorations. “Come by and see them. They get better every year.”

- By Amber Tyner

Excited for Chritmas? Check out these tips from a local designer for sprucing up your home for the holidays.


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