Glenburn family lights up the Christmas sky

Posted Dec. 23, 2011, at 1:43 p.m.

GLENBURN — This Christmas, that glow in the Glenburn sky will illuminate 3009 Ohio St., where Bobby and Dawn Hafford have created an outdoor light display incorporating creative genius, at least 14 inflatable figures, thousands of lights, and music — lots of Christmas music.

Bobby Hafford hails from Danforth, where he owned a garage and a wrecker service and worked full-time for Eastern Maine Railways, from which he retired after 35 years’ service. “I always wanted to decorate outdoors at Christmas, but I never had the time,” he said.

After he suffered a heart attack about 3½ years ago, Bobby and Dawn moved to Glenburn. “We didn’t put nothing out [for lights] the first Christmas,” he said, referring to 2009. The next year, he created an extensive display that Dawn estimated was “about half” of the 2011 display.

This year, the Haffords went all out, and Bobby’s already planning to expand the display in 2012.

“I thought it was always pretty to decorate [outdoors],” he said, watching as his display lit up the darkening December sky 30 minutes past sunset. Multi-colored lights dangled like twinkly necklaces from a crabapple tree and a tall spruce and enveloped the bushes growing alongside the house.

Bobby discussed the inflatables — he calls them “blow-ups” — standing near Ohio Street. Rudolph hauls Santa and his toy-laden sleigh; Pooh and Tigger sit side by side watching a bright Christmas angel; Snoopy perches atop his doghouse; Frosty the Snowman waves from the lawn; and Santa rides a motorcycle near the fir. The list goes on.

“I went to the 75-80 percent off sales after last Christmas,” Bobby said. “Lowe’s, Home Depot: That’s where I got my blow-ups, waiting for them to go on sale. I even got one at Sears.”

He and Betty also shopped at yard sales, where Christmas decorations attracted their attention. Bobby seeks the unique, the rarity, that “something that no else has,” he explained. This year he added three Christmas flags to his display; “I’m not sure if anybody else has ’em,” he said.

To power his far-flung decorations, Bobby wired an underground power line from his house to a junction out on the lawn and then ran another underground line to a gang box. Beyond that point, he uses extension cords.

Electricity feeds so, so many lights: 800 bulbs on the crabapple tree, another 800 bulbs draped across the bushes, and 1,100 bulbs on that tall spruce. To place those lights as high as possible on the tree, Bobby parked his four-wheel-drive truck beside the spruce, climbed a ladder set up in the truck bed, and used “a pole with an extension on it” to set the lights in place.

Next year, Bobby wants to decorate the spruce with Christmas lights to its full height, an imposing task. “When I get to the top [with the lights], I think I’ll leave ’em on” year round, he said.

The decorating started early in 2011; “we had some up before Thanksgiving,” Dawn said. The display will brighten the winter sky until early January 2012, when Bobby will shut off the power and remove the inflatables.

By then, hundreds of people will have driven past the house to enjoy the display. “Everybody slows right down,” Dawn said. “They stop out there and look it all over. Parents roll down the windows so their children can hear the music.”

This year, a music box plays 12 Christmas songs: some country, some rock. Bobby and Dawn turn on the entire display about 4:30 p.m. and turn it off around 8-8:30 p.m. or so, about the time that their 4-year-old grandson, J.J. Hallett, goes to sleep at his nearby home.

And he’s a big reason why Bobby works so hard at creating such a grand display. “It’s always fun to do things for kids,” he explained. “I like to see a smile on his face.”

Bobby could be excused for seeming like a big kid himself as he talked about everything he has incorporated into the 2011 display. He grinned while pointing out specific features and explaining where he found them; the music box, for example, came from Home Depot two years ago.

Not surprisingly, the 2010 display boosted the Haffords’ electric bill by approximately $50 a month. “We used the old, hot bulbs last year,” Dawn said.

While doubling their display in 2011, the Haffords kept their holiday-related electric bill from doubling by replacing the high-wattage lights with LED lights. Bobby plans to build a garage next to the house in 2012; he intends to “decorate the front of that [garage]” with “lots of [LED] lights” next year.

Across Ohio Street, neighbor Jake Zeiler has joined the Christmas spirit by setting up a lighted cross, a nativity scene, and a Frosty the Snowman outside his home. Bobby gave him the decorations; now when visitors roll past the Haffords’ display, they also enjoy Zeiler’s decorations.

To find the Haffords’ Christmas display, drive out Ohio Street and go straight past the Phillips Road intersection. You won’t need a map once past the Glenburn Fire Station; just look for the holiday glow.

And if you see Bobby Hafford out in his yard, thank him for sharing the holiday joy.

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