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Homes are all aglow for the holiday season

The Celeste Tillotson home at 418 Evans St. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/18/04]A vintage convertible that needed stowing has found a front-yard home for the holidays as part of a Christmas-decoration display in an east-Vicksburg subdivision.

Draped over the car, a yellow 1970 Volkswagen convertible outside the 418 Evans St. home of Celeste Tillotson and her family, are strands of old-fashioned, multicolored Christmas lights.

“It’s been parked on the side, and we had to move it because my mother was having a garage sale,” Tillotson said. “We just said, Let’s just move it and put it in the front yard.’ We worked it into the display.”

Celeste Tillotson, daughter Beth Tillotson, sister Cami Leist and nieces Lacey Leist and Alanna Leist decorated the yard on Thanksgiving Day. Their display includes an inflatable statue of Dr. Seuss’ Grinch who stole Christmas, and it has been struck by a grinch itself.

“He’s had surgery on him,” Tillotson said of the duct tape that she used to patch a hole she thinks was made by vandals who “came and whopped him down” on Sunday morning about 4:30 a.m.

“We heard them do it,” Tillotson said of the people she suspects vandalized the figure.

The family’s yard is one of a number of extensively decorated ones in Vicksburg and Warren County.

Of the larger displays, a longtime favorite is the yard of Betty Hearn, 1726 Culkin Road. She said she started small more than 10 years ago. Her display, which includes wooden cutouts of all kinds of Christmas characters, now stretches across the yards of three homes and is lighted by more than 30 floodlight bulbs.

“The ladder with Santa and the elves is new this year,” she said.

Another large display that has a tradition of at least five or six years is in southeastern Warren County, on a gravel road that connects Scott and Mount Alban roads. Plywood cutouts of spotlighted Christmas-themed figures under arches of multicolored lights cover the yard of Merle Ahner, 211 Ellison Road.

She said she spends “all summer” cutting and painting new decorations and that her daughter helps her put up the display, which can take up to three weeks to complete.

Some of the figures shown singing in trios are bears, snowmen and Santa Claus and two of his reindeer, all wearing scarves and hats.

“When you’re looking you’ll probably notice that snowmen are my favorite,” she said. “There are more of them than anything else.”

Ahner also makes the decorations for another highly decorated yard, that of her sister, Lanelle Jones, 405 Longview St. in Marion Park.

“I need more spotlights,” said Jones, who said she has lived in her home for 40 years and has decorated for at least the past 10.