Vaughan Place lights up Selma’s holidays

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Enthralled by the winter wonderland of light at Vaughan Place, a young boy with big round glasses and a stocking cap pulled down low, leaned out the car window and cried, “Merry Christmas!” over and over again.

It’s that kind of reaction that makes all the work that goes into the yearly holiday display worthwhile for the Vaughan Place family.

“As soon as we turn the lights on in December, the traffic is nonstop,” Vaughan Place Executive Director Kim Cogle said. “It really is wonderful to see the children, it makes it worth it.”

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It is so wonderful, in fact, that Kim’s husband Jeff will wait until the last car filled with children comes through the loop of lights, before turning them off for the night.

“He goes every night and turns the lights off,” Kim said. “A lot of nights, he has a hard time turning them off because he won’t turn them off if a child in a car is coming through.”

Jeff is kind of the behind the scenes man for Vaughan Place.

In his spare time, Jeff fabricates the light displays that feature woodland creatures, including this year’s big hits, a jumping frog and squirrel running up a tree.

“He really enjoys it, but he might not tell you that,” Kim said. “It takes awhile. I draw it and we have to make a big pattern. He goes over and welds the shapes. He’ll spend several months getting one display ready. We’ve got plans for so much, we just can’t get it done.

We hoped the penguins would make it, but they might have to wait for next year.”

But Jeff isn’t the only unsung hero to help the senior-living community put on their annual “gift to the community.”

“It takes a tremendous amount of manpower,” Kim said.

That’s where grounds-keeping brothers Kenneth and Curtis Parker come into the picture.

The Parker brothers, who spend the rest of the year keeping Vaughan Places’ grounds immaculate, dedicate themselves to stringing lights and putting together the displays the delight Selma’s children all through December.

“It’s a full month’s work for both of those men. It’s really a labor of love,” Kim said. “It’s another month to get them back, they’re diligent at it. They’re the men behind the lights. They make a lot of people’s Christmas wonderful.”

Adding to the wonderment this season is the return of the Community of Light Luminaries that will be displayed Friday night.

After a three-year hiatus, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event, which allows Selmians to honor loved ones with a burning holiday candle.

“That was really missed,” Cogle said. “People grieved for it. Many people said that kicked off their holiday season. I did not realize that it had impacted so many people the way it had.”

The lights are one nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., later on weekends.

The Community of Light Luminary celebration begins Friday night at 6 p.m.