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Nearly a mile of lights

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Creekside Drive couple’s home glows with Christmas warmth

By Meaghan Downs

Gary Rice leaves for work in the dark and comes home in the dark.
So when he glimpses his glowing house from the top of the hill on Creekside Drive in Lawrenceburg, it makes the journey home from his job at a construction company, and the three weeks it took stringing the 36,000 Christmas lights, worthwhile.
“With my job this time of year, I don’t see the house very often,” Gary, who is employed at WS Construction in Versailles, said. “I leave when it’s dark and come home when it’s dark. Something about the lights just makes me feel good.”
Gary and his wife Michelle Rice have been decorating their home at 1130 Creekside Drive in Lawrenceburg for more than 10 years, and have been decorating together as long as they’ve been married.
This year the Rices have strung up an estimated 5,200 feet of colored and icicle Christmas lights around the eaves and roof of their house and garage as well as the trees and shrubs on their three-acre property.  The couple worked all weekend long, a few hours each night, for three weeks to install the lights.
That’s enough Christmas lights — a little under an entire mile’s worth — to stretch from their home to the entrance of their Fox Hollow neighborhood and back, Gary said.
Most people hate decorating, he said. But Gary and Michelle have a system. He decorates the roof; this year he even brought home a manlift from work to fix the lights to the top of the house and the garage. Michelle decorates the front porch and the yard.
Gary, a former iron worker who once “walked the beams,” is used to heights.
His wife is not.
“Yes, very much so,” Michelle said of her fear of heights. “I’ll do all the ground work.”
Married for about 23 years, the couple keeps their decades-old Christmas light collection in 55-gallon drums, which can be difficult to untangle.
“That was the worst thing this year,” Michelle said. “Untangling them and keeping all the breakers from tripping.”
Though the warm winter weather was perfect for setting up the lights the weekend of Thanksgiving, the subsequent rainy days kept the Rices from turning on their Christmas light display.
The cords can sense the moisture in the wet grass, which trips the breakers and makes it impossible to keep the lights on consistently, Gary said.
“It’s a safety feature that’s put on the outside plugs,” Gary said.
Although the Rices are pretty much at capacity for lights with all the outdoor outlets taken, Gary has toyed with the idea of getting LED lights and timing them to music like other Christmas light enthusiasts.
But for now, the couple enjoys decorating for themselves, and others.
It doesn’t cost that much more to keep the lights on (Gary and Michelle estimate that their electric bill will increase by about $100 until they take their lights down right after Christmas.)
They’ve paid more for other hobbies outside of Christmas decorations, Gary said.
“Well, the end result, mostly,” Gary said of the reasons he and his wife make an effort to decorate the house and yard.
“We see people stop and look and they get joy out of it. That’s mostly why we do it.”

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Do you share a love of Christmas lights like the Rice family? Share photos of your Christmas light display by e-mailing mdowns@theandersonnews.com.