The holidays are quickly approaching, but for Millville resident Donald Golis, the Christmas spirit has been firmly at work for nearly a month. Over the course of two weeks, his Banks Acres home has been transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with music, lights and moving decorations that bring smiles to the faces of those passing by.
“It’s something I like to do every year,” said Golis, “and the neighbors appreciate it, and the people passing through.”
Shortly after moving to the area two decades ago, Golis and his wife, Pat, began dressing up the front yard around the Christmas season.
“Each year,” said Donald, “I’m getting more, new stuff, little by little.”
Before Thanksgiving even approaches, he’s up on his garage roof, laying strings of lights. In all, 1,100 twinkling lights line the top of the garage, as a friendly Santa Claus waves from behind glowing presents. Inflatables scattered across the front yard come to life with the push of a button – a snowman rides a motorcycle and reindeer guide the jolly one’s sleigh.
Overlooking the entire display and the house is a star, hung 80 feet in the sky. To get that one anchored up above, Golis broke out his fishing rod to cast the line amid the top branches of the trees behind his home.
“I finally got it there on the eighth try,” he noted with a laugh. “It wasn’t exactly the branch I was aiming for, but I was happy.”
Large plastic candles and decorative candy canes line the entrance up the driveway, and lighted white reindeer spring to life, grazing in the Golises’ yard. He even picked up some bales of hay and put together his own manger, surrounding a nativity scene on the property’s east side.
Inside the home, Pat decks the halls with garland, wreathes and lights, although, she admits, it’s not as extensive as her husband’s display.
“I like to keep it nice in here,” she said, “but the real show is outside. I don’t put up as much as he does.” But visitors still seem to appreciate it, all the same.
Donald’s knack for holiday decor has sparked an interest from neighbors, too, and he now lends a hand in sprucing up their houses, as well.
“I brought over the lights and an inflatable nativity scene,” he said. “They really like it, but they’re getting up there [in age] and can’t put the decorations out themselves.”
Each evening, as the lights come on and the fans begin to blow life into the different characters, including a festive Tigger, Donald makes his way around the property, straightening up this and picking up that. The rain and wind that have bogged down the area over the past weeks have taken their toll on the tremendous amounts of decorations that line the Golis property.
“We’ve had a lot of rain,” noted Golis, “and you have to be careful when the water comes up.” Fortunately, he has run into only minimal problems, which primarily include rain splashing up mud from puddles onto the decorations.
“Every once in a while, you’ll get a light blown out,” he said, “and that will cause a bunch of others to go out. I just have to go find another one.” Most of the inflatables find refuge away from puddles, as they rest on tarps.
Once inside the garage, the immediate impression is of being inside a Christmas warehouse. Containers of working lights, piles of semi-working lights and additional decorations for which there’s just no more room in the yard take up most of the space. Cases upon cases of white and multi-colored Christmas lights, purchased at 20 cents a box, are stored in the garage’s attic.
“There’s still a lot here,” said Golis, “but there’s just not room for it out there.”
Amidst the Christmas decorations are colorful plastic eggs, which are brought out and placed around the home every Easter, and a red-white-and-blue flag that is hung every Fourth of July.
“I’ve got something for a lot of the other holidays,” said Golis, “but Christmas is the biggest one.”
Though the fascination coming from those slowly driving by this year has been obvious, Golis said he has noticed fewer and fewer people coming by to view the display each year.
“It’s a shame,” he said. “You know the neighbors’ cars, and they drive right by, and every once in a while, a new car will come by at night and slow down. We have had parents bring their kids up the driveway and walk around, but you don’t