When the kid laughed and said, “Willya look at all this stuff,” Ronnie Cain looked over and laughed, too.
“And I have stuff in the basement I didn’t even get around to,” said Cain, who is a kid at heart – even if he is 80.
Make that, a Christmas kid at heart. He’s now officially spent half of those years making spirits bright across the region.
Yep, for more than 40 years – save for 2020 when the pandemic pulled the plug – Mr. Cain has illuminated the seasonal proceedings with his now-legendary holiday light display.
Well, check that. “Display,” might not get it. Think Disney World, with the high beams on, instead.
Literal generations have rolled up to his Maple Avenue abode to see all those lights and all those displays that are strewn across his house and yard – and the houses and yards of his neighbors, too.
Meanwhile, Dawn Golden took her daughter through when she was a little girl. Now, that daughter, Nicole McVey, is doing the same with her kids, Declan and Saorise, who are 10 and 7.
Cain’s candle-power presentation speaks the universal language of Christmas magic, she said.
Admission is free, but should you want to make a donation, the money will be used to buy the stuffed, plush toys that Santa and Mrs. Claus give out with each visit.
Today is your final chance of this season to visit. The lights will be on through 9 p.m., until Cain flips the switch for another year. Maple Street is right off Fairmont Road. Make a turn and follow the signs.
The aforementioned Mr. Claus, meanwhile, got Mr. Cain into all this.
On a whim, he bought a Santa suit that had been marked down more than once from the former Heck’s department store in Westover.
Then, on another whim on a long-ago Yule, he decided to don said suit, plop down on a lawn chair, and wave at passing cars on nearby Fairmont Road.
Then, the church van pulled over, and the nine kids popped out.
“You should have seen the looks on their faces,” he said. “I knew I had to keep doing something for Christmas.”
That something since has morphed into more than 200,000 Christmas bulbs and displays that never fail to unwrap a smile.
Santas in Winnebagos and on water skis.
A reformed Grinch.
Two suitably attired T. Rex dinosaurs doing a Jurassic jingle-dance.
And a certain infant in a manger whom Cain says is the reason for the season.
The former mine electrician has melted power lines and fried transformers along the way, but thing is, he said, marveling, the utility companies never get angry.
“That’s because of who he is,” laughed his nephew, J.R. Jenkins, who was helping park cars with his son, Cole.
“He’s like an elf, himself. Uncle Ronnie is Christmas.”