Winter Wonderland

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 30, 2007

WINDSOR – Long after dusk, the rock path that makes up Dalton Drive remains as bright as day.

That’s because it’s surrounded by a quarter of a million tiny lights. For the tenth year in a row, Herman and Therman Hoggard have constructed a winter wonderland down their street.

People from all across the state and even up and down the east coast come each year to witness the dazzling spectacle of lights and Christmas joy.

This year’s display boasts 90,000 more lights than last year, many additional wooden silhouettes and two extra large lighted metal decorations.

Herman Hoggard told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Thursday that he was planning to have everything up and running by Friday evening (Nov. 30).

Thursday night, the Hoggards had about 170,000 lights lit, but many of the decorations were not up yet and everything was still undergoing the test-run phase.

&uot;We’re trying to figure out how to run all the lights at the same time without tripping any circuit breakers,&uot; Herman Hoggard explained.

That’s trickier than it seems, as the lights pull an astounding 800 watts of light. The average house pulls only 200, even with all the lights on and appliances running.

The Hoggards bring in four special breaker boxes just to run the lights for the month of December.

Herman Hoggard said he began preparations for this year way back in June, painting silhouettes.

&uot;There’s a new 16-piece, very realistic detailed manger scene that took a whole month of six- to eight-hour days to complete,&uot; he stated.

There are about 300 wooden silhouettes in total, all hand-painted by Herman Hoggard.

The brothers began hanging lights in September.

&uot;This has become a six months out of the year project, but I love it,&uot; Hoggard said.

Understandably, the Hoggards’ light bill for the month of December is unbelievably high. Last year, it ran to over $3,000. This year, with 70 percent more lights, it’s expected to run much higher. Even so, the brothers don’t charge admission for people to come see the lights. The display is open to all.

There is, however, a donation box located at each end of the archway that lines the road.

The Hoggards rely on the goodwill of others to help pay the electricity bill.

&uot;If every person who comes through even put in 50 cents or a quarter, that would be a big help,&uot; Hoggard said.

The lights will be on each night during the week from dusk until 11 p.m. and until midnight or 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights for the whole month of December.

As is tradition for the Hoggards, something new will be added every night from December 1 until Christmas.

Two major new things this year are the huge hand-crafted lighted metal decorations, which were welded at Green’s Cross Body Shop.

One is a 20-foot-long, 800-light horse and carriage.

It’s 12 feet high at its highest point.

There’s also a 20-foot, 250-light depiction of two doves holding a Christmas present.

Herman Hoggard, who worked at Virginia Power for 28 years, said he walks through the grounds every night to check each bulb and spotlight.

&uot;We do about an hour walk every night to make sure every bulb is burning and every spotlight is in just the right place,&uot; he said.

Herman lives with his brother Therman and Therman’s wife, Nancy, in a house on Dalton Drive.

The lights and wooden cutouts extend beyond their yard into their neighbor’s and beyond.

&uot;Our neighbors don’t mind. They’re really good folks and allow us to use their property every year,&uot; Herman Hoggard noted.

Therman, who works with Mediacom, took two weeks off from work to help with the setup.

Herman explained, &uot;It’s a gift of love. It all got started when Therman’s 16-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident more than a dozen years ago.&uot;

That Christmas, the two put up a wooden angel in the year in memory of the girl.

From that point on they added more cutouts and more lights every year. Now the display is a spectacle that thousands look forward to enjoying each year during the Christmas season.

Clark Avenue is located on the east side of Windsor off of US 17. It’s the road beside the Duck Thru convenience store. Clark Avenue turns into Dalton Drive, where the light display is located.

You can’t miss it… just look for the &uot;glow.&uot;