Lights, music, Christmas: Area houses decorated to brighten spirits

Sunday, November 30, 2008
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Joe Morris decorates his home at 2206 Kent St., seen in a 2007 file photos, with lights synchronized with holiday music using a Light-O-Rama display. Visitors may listen in their cars on 88.7 FM from 6 to 9 p.m. until New Year's Eve.

Whether it's flashing lights set to music at a residential home, candlelight at historic Victorian homes or homes decked out with every sparkle imaginable, this year's displays are bound to brighten your holidays and get you into the Christmas spirit.

Joseph Morris decorates his two-story home on Kent Street in Cape Girardeau with a light show choreographed to Christmas music on 88.7 FM. He won the 2006 Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce Holiday of Lights contest. Although he was nominated in 2007, he didn't win. He said he started this type of decorating about two years ago.

"I saw some videos on the Internet and figured out how to do it," he said.

Passers-by tune into 88.7 FM on their car radios and as the music plays, the orchestrated light show begins. Your eyes follow the lights that dim and blink, leading you in a direction planned by Morris.

For help, he recruits his brother, Josh Morris, and friends Matt and John Taylor to begin a three day adventure of stringing lights, having a beer or two and hanging out and watching TV.

Morris said his brother Josh -- the bravest -- takes care of roof detail, but most of the display is on the ground and the side of the house. Some tunes in the repertoire include "Jingle Bells," "Silver Bells" and "Carol of the Bells," all by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

"It's pretty cold, but it looks like the forecast is predicting warm weather," said Morris, who planned to decorate the day after Thanksgiving and is hoping for snow.

Morris said he does the show because it seems like a lot of people like it. They must, he said, because the streets are pretty full the whole times it's up.

The display at 2206 Kent St is lit from 6 to 9 p.m. until New Year's Eve. Morris changes the show periodically, adding new pieces.

"I try to add new ones every year and take out the ones people don't like," he said. "I know what they don't like because they tell me."

He isn't sure what new blow up characters he'll have, but lights will be added. Traditional favorites include a polar bear and Santa Claus.

On the other end of the lighting spectrum, historic homes in the area have used period decorations and faux candlelight to set the mood. Both the Oliver House in Jackson and the Glenn House in Cape Girardeau will have candlelight tours.

"It leaves you with a feeling of hearth and home," said, Cathi Stoverink, Jackson Heritage Association archivist for the Oliver House. She prefers the evening tour because the turn-of-the-century home seems more like a home than a museum at that time.

The candlelit tour is held just once during the Christmas tours, from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at 224 E. Adams St. Next door, Emmanuel United Church of Christ will have a live Nativity the same night.

The candlelit tour will reflect a time before technology, with only the glow of Christmas lights and battery-powered window candles by which the guides will lead guests.

"When the Olivers lived there, they would have had combination gas and electric lighting because electricity was so erratic at the time," Stoverink said. "The quiet during evening tours will revive the idea of hearth and home when even reading by candlelight was a challenge and families were a source of entertainment."

The Glenn House candlelight tour is from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and will include other special events from music performed by the municipal band volunteers and Westminster Choir to wine tasting offered by River Ridge Winery.

"It will be a festive time," said Polly Cotner, Glenn House board member and tour coordinator.

Lighting spills over to the exterior of the Glenn House as well where they have changed from luminaries to pierced tin cans that contain candles set in sand and hold up better if it rains. A little bit of extra lighting in the interior of the home will include lights around tall bookcases.

"Their greenery was natural. We use artificial but we do sparkle," Cotner said.

cpagano@semissourian.com

388-3648

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