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Tornado can't darken man's Christmas spirit

Except for a brief stint in the military, Roy Newsome has always lived in Thomson, so he's had little experience with big snowfalls.

However, he's very familiar with the snowball effect.

Fifteen years ago, Mr. Newsome thought it would be fun to put a few Christmas lights in his yard. Thanks to end-of-the-season clearance sales each year, his collection has grown to an estimated 12,000 lights.

"I started out small, stringing lights for my enjoyment," he said. "And then one day, I stood back and looked at it and said "Great day, did I do all this?'"

The Camellia Street resident said he starts in November putting out his lights and decorations a little at the time. The result is never the same because he said he never remembers how he had it the year before. This year, his display overflowed into his next door neighbor's yard, where he put lights on the shrubs and porch.

"I've run out of space and electrical outlets," he said with a smile. "I trip a breaker every now and again."

Mother Nature also updated Mr. Newsome's display this year. He said he stored all of his decorations in a backyard storage building, which was destroyed by falling trees during the March tornado. As a result, he purchased two inflatable snow globes to fill in the blank spaces. In addition to the lights, Mr. Newsome cut out and painted numerous wooden Christmas trees, snowmen, Santas and reindeer which line the driveway and are used as ornaments in a large tree.

When his wife of 39 years was bedridden from bad health, her uncle would put the display on video for her to enjoy inside. Since her death, Mr. Newsome has remarried, and has a new reason to put out his decorations.

"Barbara and I never had kids of our own," he said of his late wife. "But Carolyn has three grandchildren. Now I've got a family. So this year, they are going to love Christmas at Grandpa's."

Mr. Newsome said he likes to watch cars slow down when passing his house, and he also enjoys the competition of lights at a neighbors' house on the corner. In fact, he said it is his desire for every house on the street to catch the holiday spirit and decorate, so more cars would come by.

"I like all of it," he said. "And when others enjoy it, it brings enjoyment into my life."

Web posted on Thursday, December 20, 2007

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