POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — What started out as a way for the McKinney family to give back to the community has became a tradition with hundreds of inflatables on display at their home on Maxwell Avenue along with a donation box for those who’d like to support local charitable organizations.
“Last year when COVID was happening, we knew people were struggling and they needed help,” said Heather McKinney. “We figured, with our display, we might as well help the community and do what we can for them.”
McKinney said both her and her husband, Nick, both worked during the pandemic.
“We were okay because we were working, but we know other people weren’t working, so we wanted to do as much as we could for the community,” Heather said.
The McKinneys have been collecting inflatables to display in their yard for close to 10 years.
“Eight or nine years ago, we started collecting and we just kind of had a couple, when every year, like, ‘oh, these are cute. Let’s get this one,’” Heather said. “Then after Christmas, of course, you know they went on clearance. So, that’s when we just stocked up. That’s normally when we get them, after Christmas, especially the bigger ones.”
The McKinney home currently dons more than 200 inflatable displays and over 15,000 Christmas lights.
“[It took] eights days this year [to set up],” Heather said.
Heather said donations for charity were more than expected in 2020, (estimated at just over $7,000) leading them to move from donating to one organization to two organizations for 2021. This year all of the proceeds the McKinneys collect will be split between the Point Pleasant Fire Department’s Christmas food boxes and the Mason County Shop with a Cop program.
The McKinneys plan to keep the lights up until a little after Christmas, possible New Year’s, Heather said. The light display is on around 5 p.m. — when the family gets home — each night, until around 10 p.m. as long as the wind cooperates, Heather said.
Heather said a number of people ask if they keep the donations to use towards the electric bill increase related to the display and they do not. She encourages everyone to donate since it goes back to the community.
“Any help would be greatly appreciated,” Heather said. “It goes all to the community. We don’t keep any of it. Because we’ve had people ask us. We do not. Every little penny goes to the programs.”
For those who’d like to drop in a donation, the locked box is clearly marked in front of the display.
Heather said the traffic has not been as heavy this year compared to 2020, but she believes that is due to them not advertising as much.
“Oh my gosh, so much traffic,” Heather said. “It hasn’t been as much traffic [this year]. But I don’t know, just because we haven’t advertised as much as we did last year, but on the weekends, the road does get gridlocked.”
Heather said she plans to continue collecting inflatable displays.
“My husband tells me no more, but,” Heather laughed.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.