Gentry family lights bring Christmas cheer
Joint effort has lit up Pine Chapel Road for decades
The Gentry family’s impressive Christmas lights display continues to bring holiday cheer to passers-by, just as it has for decades.
Between Tony Gentry, his brother Nevin, and their uncle Eddie, it’s something that you have to see to believe. There were humble beginnings, an effort to bring some holiday cheer to the family.
“Next thing I know, we had gone crazy with it,” said Tony Gentry.
Just how big has the display gotten? Gentry estimates around 100,000 lights are out around the family’s properties and across the street.
It takes Tony and his wife, Toni, three or four weeks to string all the lights, and two days just to get the drop cords run without overloading the whole thing. For uncle Eddie, he guesstimates it takes six weeks to get it all done.
Eddie Gentry got into
the Christmas light game around 12 years ago to his best knowledge, about five
years after his nephews began. His wife found some discounted blow-up decorations, and the rest is history.
“I decided to do it myself,” said Eddie.
Now he handles lights on his property as well as helping Nevin to get lights on the fence across the street, adding just that much more to the already-impressive display.
One of the main questions that the Gentry family gets is pretty understandable: everyone wonders how bad the power bill is.
“It’s not as bad as you’d think,” Tony Gentry said.
The display is around 90% LED bulbs, which means that Tony’s power bill isn’t too bad. Per month, he pays between $135 and $140 more than he would without the lights. Before the LEDs, though, he was paying around twice that.
Overall, the family has invested a lot of money into the display, aside from the power bills. Gentry estimates that they’ve put between $40,000 and $50,000 into the massive display.
Some of Gentry’s favorites are the roller coaster and the monster trucks, driven by reindeer, of course. The roller coaster alone has over 2,000 lights, and is one of the oldest pieces on display.
“We started adding a few every year,” said Gentry.
The display now runs across Eddie, Nevin, and Tony’s properties, and even takes up space across the creek at their neighbor’s property. Gentry said the neighbors were glad to let them use the space, and love to look at the lights from their house.
In the end, though, it’s a family thing. The display is dedicated, now, to Tony’s sister-in-law and takes place on land that he inherited from his grandmother, and the trio of family members and Gentry’s wife work tirelessly on it.
“We enjoy doing it, too,” Gentry said.
Not only do they enjoy it, but they plan on keeping it going for as long as possible.
“We’ll do it as long as we can,” said Eddie Gentry.
Anyone interested in taking a gander at the Gentry family’s lights can find them on Pine Chapel Road in Calhoun, turning right at Crane Eater Community Church.
On Christmas day, the family will also be hosting jolly old Saint Nick, who has cleared a bit of time from his busy schedule to come meet some lucky kids.