“We like to cheer people up and show them the world isn’t all meanness.”
By Bettina Huseby
J.H. and Johnnie Gail Allen began displaying Christmas lights to please their grandchildren, Sabrina, 12, Beverly, 10, and Cameron, 7. Every year for the past eight years it’s come out differently, mostly because Johnnie Gail can’t remember exactly what they did the year before. It’s understandable once you see the scope of their project.
Tonight, and every night through the New Year, you can go and see what 5 acres of lights really looks like. The Allens are glad when people drive by to look. The lights are on a timer, which runs from 5:30-10 p.m. on weeknights. Weekend hours run a bit later. It’s free to the public.
J.H. says the displays, which include several manger scenes, Santas, reindeer, trees, trains and a tiny helicopter, have come from many different sources. Some are donated and some are bought. He works for the City of Jasper and is tight with the guys in sanitation. They set aside anything resembling Christmas “yard art” which gets thrown away. J.H. takes the items home and restrings the lights.
Setup begins every September. On Thanksgiving night they flip the switch. Extended family members walk the 5 acres in darkness looking at all the colors and vignettes as family cats and free range chickens wander in and out of the manger scenes.
Sometimes a light or two will stop working. The Allen’s dog, a Mountain Feist named Scooby, inexplicably likes taking the bulbs in his mouth. Without breaking them, he pulls them from the socket and leaves them dangling but attached. Scooby keeps J.H. on his toes.
They can’t say exactly how many lights are on display. It’s too many to count. But J.H. did have to replace the breaker box this year. Their January power bill will fatten by at least $100, but they don’t mind that one bit. Johnnie Gail says, “We like to cheer people up and show them the world isn’t all meanness.” She does dread taking it all back down, which takes her the better part of January.
During the holiday season, and every other day of the calendar year, the Allens are on call as volunteer firefighters with the Yellow Creek Fire Department. They are both First Responders and he’s the assistant chief. She is a training officer. They are lifelong residents of the area and are surrounded by family on all sides of their property.
5 Acres of Lights
J.H. and Johnnie Gail Allen
83 Dove Street
Ball Ground, Ga. 30107
Dove Street is one and one-half miles from Hwy. 53 East. Turn left. House number 83 is directly on the left. Dove Street is a one-lane gravel road, which intersects with Finch Road. Turn right onto Finch to get back to Yellow Creek Road.