STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) — Roy Thompson’s farm in southeast Georgia lights up after dark like a Christmas wonderland — not just the house, but the fields and even surrounding woods.
And cars and trucks by the thousands come rolling in with visitors eager for a look.
Thompson and his family have been decorating TMT Farms in Statesboro for 25 years. The grand display of countless light strands, plastic snowmen, inflatable figures and myriad other decorations has snowballed over the years. Likewise, the line of cars waiting to take the drive-through tour has grown as well.
“People come from not only all over Georgia, but from other states too,” Thompson told The Statesboro Herald.
He said more than 45,000 carloads of people came to see the massive display during the holidays last year. The light show starts at sundown each night beginning Thanksgiving day and typically lasts until midnight. This year, the family plans to welcome visitors through Dec. 29.
Tours are free, though the Thompsons encourage visitors to donate canned food, children’s toys, pet food and money to help area families facing with hardships.
John Long of the Christian Social Ministries food pantry has been busy collecting 55-gallon (208 litre) drums filled with donated food from the farm, then unloading and returning them. He said donations from TMT Farms surpassed more than 19 tons (17 metric tonnes) of food days before Christmas.
“You get overwhelmed by the workload,” Long told WTOC-TV. “But then you get refreshed and remember how awesome it is.”
Thompson said he and his wife, Deborah, decided to cover their acreage in Christmas decorations not long after they moved onto the farm in 1994.
The display grown so large, he said, it takes about 25 weeks — nearly half the year — to get everything in place.
The lights typically get turned off around midnight. But Thompson said on nights with particularly long lines, he’s been known to keep them on all night.
“We have had people tell us they get up at 4:30 a.m. and come,” he said, “then go eat breakfast.”