SUMMERHILL TOWNSHIP — Pulling a bright-orange quilted jumpsuit over her shoulders and putting on warm gloves, Debbie Durrant of Conneautville was excited about what she had driven miles to see — a 750,000-light display at the Wing Road home of David and Doris Longo.

“It’s astounding,” she said as she gathered under a pavilion Friday night with her daughter, Katie, 9, as they waited for others to join them to walk through the decorated field.

“It’s just beautiful,” was her reaction as she drove up the road and saw the display for the first time. “I don’t know how you can do all this,” she said to the family who provide the display.

“This is it; it’s gotta be it,” was the proclamation of her daughter as she, too, saw the lights from the roadway. Katie’s class at French Creek Valley Christian School in Saegertown had made scrolls and gingerbread men to pass out to visitors and she was excited to be at the festivities.

They were the first two visitors at Friday night’s event, the first of two nights open to the public to walk through the nearly one-acre of Christmas decorations.

Other nights, the display is lit until about midnight for people to enjoy as they drive past.

Decorations are in all sizes, shapes and colors. As you approach the display from Wing Road, you first see the large lighthouse of red, white and blue lights and you know you’re there.

Clear lights mark a bridge through the center of the display. As you get closer, a nativity scene is along the side facing the road — along with a red cross.

While the display features the Christian message, it also has other symbols of Christmas: Santa Claus in his sleigh being pulled by reindeer, stars, Christmas trees, candy canes, carolers and others.

A lighted wishing well blinks in the night and a banner — outlined with clear lights — reads “Merry Christmas.”

Some lights blink; others don’t. It wasn’t designed that way, according to David Longo. “We just put them up and if they blink, fine,” he said.

While that part of the display may not have been specifically designed, it’s clear the other portions are.

The scenes are constructed in flower gardens of Mrs. Long. One is in the rose garden.

New this year is a live tree decorated under a pavilion. Santa Claus greets children under the shelter and hot chocolate, coffee and cookies are served and there are free sleigh rides.

Also new this year are painted sculptures — kids building a snowman is in one flower bed; wise men and the kings are in another. Mrs. Longo spent hours painting the additions. “It was eight hours straight every day for a couple of weeks,” she laughed.

Work on compiling the display begins in October with the couple assisted by their children and seven grandchildren. “It’s a family ordeal,” Longo laughed.

Neighbor Tom Hollabaugh assists with erecting the figurines and lights as well, noting he does it “for the kids — to see their faces.”

It’s been six years since the first display was presented and it “keeps growing,” said Longo. “The kids come up with the ideas and my wife designs it. We take input from the public too,” he said.

What started as a display of 350,000 lights has grown to more than 750,000. “It can’t get much larger,” said Mrs. Longo. “It would be too much.”

Each year, the couple buys “thousands of lights,” he said, noting he often buys them after the holidays to get them at “25 to 30 percent of the normal price.”

Why do they go to so much work and expense? “We try to give back to the people who helped make us what we are today,” Longo said. “We want to give back.”



Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at jsmith@meadvilletribune.com

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