In years past at Christmas time, it wasn’t uncommon to see cars lined up on Newton Drive checking out the lights and decorations that covered the Chapman house from the roof to the tip of the yard.
This week, you could see those decorations out in August, but not on the roof nor hanging on the front door. The yard was covered with reindeer, sleighs and trees for their yard sale.
“We’re not moving. It was just too much for us to do it all, you know, when you get older,” said Lynda Chapman.
Lynda and Dale Chapman began really doing up the outside of their house for Christmas in 2000, when Dale retired from ComEd. Dale enjoyed looking at Christmas displays and wanted to see what he could do.
The couple, their sons and grandsons spent the beginning of this week setting up all the Christmas items in the driveway and yard for a sale beginning Thurs-day and going through the weekend. By 10 a.m. Thursday, most of the outside decorations had been sold.
“I will still have my trees, I put several up in the house,” said Lynda.
But it’s time to retire the outside display.
“It was a big project and the older you get, the harder it is,” said Dale.
From lighted reindeer to village pieces, the yard sale resembled an actual Christ-mas store, including stacks of lights and ornaments.
EBB AND FLOW
When Dale began the new hobby in 2000, it just kept growing and growing after that. The roof would display light-up deer and even a 90-pound star.
The electricity bill would be at least $1,000 before LED lights grew in popularity. Prior to those more-efficient lights, the display contained mostly C9 lights, said Dale. The display ran about 30,000 watts and took about a month to do.
In 2007, the Chapmans added about $2,000 worth of more Christmas decorations to thank the community for supporting their grandson, Zach Chapman, who was fighting acute myologic leukemia, one of the rarer forms of leukemia.
Fundraisers were held throughout Morris to help the family with the medical bills. Dale strung over 100,000 lights, put together and placed 15 deer, and added another 20 or more figures to his yard that year, creating a twinkling display on three sides of his home to thank the community.
Zach is still in remission today and starting high school this year.
A couple of years ago the Chapmans started to downgrade the display because it was becoming too much to do, and they finally decided to sell their items this summer.
“We get to see the grandkids a lot more now and go around and see (other people’s) lights,” said Dale.
Ray and Pearl Lindley of Morris were regular viewers of the Chapman house. Ray stopped by the yard sale Thursday for a few things.
“It all looked nice. I think everyone in town drives by this house,” he said.
Lynda said the best part of all the work was seeing people slow down in front of the home enjoying it.
There have been many memorable moments thanks to their decorating for the Chapmans and even strangers.
“We did have a proposal out front. It was someone from Morris. She said yes,” said Lynda.
“We had one of those beautiful songs going at the time. It was about five years ago,” added Dale.
One year Lynda will never forget is when the wind was so bad it blew all of the decorations down about two days before Christmas. Dale refused to put it back up.
“I cried because I thought of all the hard work he did and it was destroyed,” said Lynda.
But her four sons and all her grandchildren at the time came over and put everything back up in time for Christmas, bringing back all her Christmas spirit that year.
“We’re just glad everyone enjoyed it so much,” said Lynda.