POINT PLEASANT —There are in excess of one million Christmas lights on display at the West Virginia State Farm Museum, according to Museum Director Lloyd Akers.
“I always say if someone doesn’t believe me, they’re welcome to come and count,” Akers joked.
For 10 days in December for several years, the farm museum (located just north of Point Pleasant on W.Va. 62) puts on a massive display of lights across nearly 15 acres of its property for visitors and it’s all free. This is the last weekend for the display which will close for the season at 9 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 22. The museum will be open from 6-9 p.m. both this Saturday and Sunday. In addition, Santa will be in the Country Store to visit with children and free cookies, coffee and hot chocolate will be available at the Country Kitchen.
The farm museum was a popular destination Friday, Dec. 20 with over 400 people visiting in the first hour the gates were open. Not counting Friday night’s attendance, Akers said around 4,000 people had already visited the museum’s Christmas light display this year alone.
Volunteers at the museum start working on stringing up all those lights around October. Just 10 days of lights can run the electric bill at the complex an extra $800 to $900. This is where donations help out at the museum which doesn’t charge admission to the show but appreciations anything people want to give.
Of course, it’s not about the electric bill or the constant maintenance on the lights — if this were the case, who in their right mind would bother?
Akers said it’s about showing the public its appreciation for their support of the museum year round.
“We appreciate everyone,” Akers said.
On Friday night as the visitors poured through the gates of the complex, the lights lit up Zach and Katrinka Harris of Mason County getting married outside the replica of the Mt. Zion Church at the museum. Just a few feet away was a live nativity scene on display from members of Point Pleasant’s First Church of God. Of course, not to be forgotten was Santa Claus handing out candy canes and listening to endless Christmas lists from children.
Playing the part of Santa for several years now is Steve Little of Gallia County, Ohio. Surprisingly, Little said he’s had very few bad moments as Santa except for a wet child in his lap or catching a cold from the little ones.
“I love doing it,” Little said.
He studied theater in Kansas and did a lot of street theater which Little explained gave him great background for playing Santa. He added, playing Santa is just a form of street theater.
At Little’s side is wife Linda, a long-time teacher in Mason County who had former students of every age coming up to her for a hug or a story from the classroom now and from long ago. And really, that is what the farm museum’s display is all about - providing a place for kids young and old to see Santa, or an former school teacher, or a winter wedding, or a live nativity, all under the kind and forgiving glow of Christmas lights.
Visitors are free to drive through the lights or walk around to explore the complex.