The Christmas spirit isn’t scarce on Elmarch Avenue.
For decades, Cynthiana and Harrison County residents have come to 102 S. Elmarch and 102 N. Elmarch to admire the abundance of Christmas lights and decorations.
“I thought we was gonna have to get a cop,” said Charlie Carson about the traffic from onlookers.
“They start asking us in October, ‘When you gonna put up your Christmas lights?’” said Charlie’s wife Peggy.
The couple moved to 102 S. Elmarch in 1977, and they said they’ve been decorating ever since.
“As long as we have the grand kids, we won’t think about not doing it,” said Peggy.
At 102 N. Elmarch, Charles and Frances Cox also have assistance decorating from their daughter and granddaughters.
A tradition of elaborate decorations and lights started by her father, the Cox’s daughter Kathy Arnold said she plans on keeping the tradition alive.
Working on weekends at her parents’ house, Arnold said she began putting up decorations around the beginning of December.
“There’s at least a 1,000 lights on the roof,” Arnold said.
It’s the Carson’s roof that Peggy has a hard time keeping Charlie off.
The Carson’s grandsons, Anthony and Nick, placed the 18 strands of lights on the roof this year.
“I try to keep an eye on Charlie to make sure he doesn’t get too much,” said Peggy. “I don’t like a whole lot of things setting around. If you put it out, you have to bring it in.”
Apparently, Charlie is a kid at heart. He buys the longest strands of lights and doesn’t mind the $10 extra on his electric bill during the Christmas season.
“It’s worth every penny,” he said.
Charles Cox saved pennies when he built the figurines, arches and decor that now fill his front yard.
Arnold said her father would always point out decorations during car trips.
“He’d say, ‘Oh, I can go home and do that,’” said Arnold. “And so, we have antique decorations.”
When not in commission during the holiday season, the Christmas decorations are stored in the Cox’s basements and two garages.
And the Carson’s basement is very similar.
“It’s a good thing I got a basement,” said Peggy. “We have enough stuff down there to do two more yards.”
Already, the Carson’s and Cox’s have two yards that entertain a city.
“They enhance each other,” said Arnold about her parents’ and their neighbors’ yards. “We do our thing and they do theirs.”
“People say we’re running a contest with the neighbors,” said Peggy.
The Carson’s laughed and denied the accusation.
“They’re really good neighbors,” she said.
Arnold and her parents agreed.
“I don’t think there should be any competition in Christmas,” Arnold said.
The only competition Charlie Carson may have, is one with himself.
Charlie designs the yard layout, a plan that he said changes every three or four years.
He doesn’t write down the layout. Charlie says he remembers it all in his head.
“All the angels go on one side, the nativity scene goes on the other side,” he said.
While Charlie and Peggy have already thought about the changes they’ll make next year, they said there’s one thing that will definitely be in place.
“I don’t really want to do away with the manger scene,” said Peggy. “That’s what we’re celebrating for.”
Charlie and Peggy said they enjoyed celebrating.
“We love an excuse to have family together, a big dinner, a cake and decorations,” Peggy said, laughing. “What brings the family together, keeps the family together.”
For the Carson’s, they know their lights are enjoyed by more than their three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
“People are so nice,” said Peggy. “Every year they say this is our best year.”
Frances Cox said she had received the same feedback since the family began decorating in the 1980’s.
“A lot of people tell me it makes them happy,” she said.
Frances said cars often stopped on the street to get out in front of the two houses, some onlookers even knocking on their doors.
“Some kids like to come through the arches,” said Arnold. “It’s enjoyable to watch.”
At the Carson’s, it’s the nativity scene that seems to intrigue the kids.
“The kids want to touch the baby,” said Peggy.
And according to Charlie and Peggy Carson, the baby will have a prime spot in their front yard every year.