(Red Oak) -- It started nearly four decades ago as a simple display involving a few strings of Christmas lights. It's grown into one of KMAland's greatest holiday traditions.
For the past two months, Jack Baird and his family have been working on their usual spectacular Christmas light display. The lights are turned on at Baird's residence at 1233 E Avenue northwest of Red Oak for the first time in the holiday season Saturday evening at around 5:30 p.m.. Baird tells KMA News family members have added to the display each year.
"My one son Chris, when he got older and was in junior high, he enjoyed working with 'em," said Baird. "So, he kind of took it over. For years, he added to it and added to it. Seemed like the whole family added to it. We just kept growing and thinking of something different to do."
For motorists searching for the display, the first thing visible is a large illuminated cross on top of the hill. Baird says visitors will then find a vast array of decorated structures and animated characters.
"There's all kinds of different signs on the hill done in different lights," he said. "There's a church with little animated characters in it, and a pretty good life-sized Nativity scene." Also, a lighted ferris wheel measuring more than 20 feet tall. Even a tractor and combine are decorated for the season. Baird says one of this year's additions is a 19-foot tall soldier with a waiving arm.
Another change involves the use of new technology, such as LED lighting.
"It's quite a little process when you go to deal with thousands of light bulbs," Baird said. "It takes time, and they're a little bit expensive, yet. But it saves so much on energy. We just couldn't believe the amount of energy you can save. It makes it a lot safer from our viewpoint. In fact, we don't worry about an overload so much when we use these LEDs. They just do not pull. It's roughly a 90% savings on electricity--according to the ads, anyway."
At 82, Baird says the display wouldn't be possible without his family.
"Our ages are getting a little against us now," said Baird. "I'm not too good at climbing grain bins, anymore, at 80-some years old. I hope we have some young family people here that want to carry it on."
Baird says his family does accept donations--a collection box is placed near the display. You can view the Baird display every night from Saturday until New Year's Day from dark until 10:30 p.m. Sundays through Fridays, and until 11 p.m. Saturdays.