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Deputies roll out impressive light displays

Deputies' homes have extensive holiday displays

Posted: December 20, 2015 - 12:03am  |  Updated: December 20, 2015 - 12:31am
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Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Mike Barrett and his wife, Corinne, enjoy decorating their house and yard for Christmas. Their display includes inflatables and lots of lights.  Photo By Jim Blaylock
Photo By Jim Blaylock
Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Mike Barrett and his wife, Corinne, enjoy decorating their house and yard for Christmas. Their display includes inflatables and lots of lights.

 

When the holiday season rolls around, a couple of Columbia County sheriff’s deputies enjoy adding more than blue lights to their repertoires.

Road Deputy Mike Barrett and traffic Deputy Scott Curry like turning their Columbia County properties into extensive light displays.

Curry said he begins in April, programming a computerized light display that dances along with a 18-20 minutes of holiday songs that can be heard through a car radio and a radio on the lawn.

“For every light you see, I have to specifically tell it what to do, when to do it and how to do it,” Curry said.

The display at his home near the Lakeside schools runs from 6 to 10:45 p.m. nightly and includes a variety of inflatables like the newest addition of Santa in a helicopter and a nutcracker taller than the roofline.

Curry said he’s always enjoyed holiday lights, but started out with traditional white ones before graduating to more colorful LED lights and active displays. But his decorations are a little different than the ones he grew up with.

“I was born in Pennsylvania, where snow covered the lights most of the time,” Curry said. “When it’s under snow, it has a totally different appearance. You get a glow.”

Barrett said he too, has always enjoyed holidays displays. He spends two or three days around Thanksgiving stringing his yard and home with lots of lights, inflatables including Santa riding a motorcycle, a lighted Nativity scene and lots of garland and bows.

“I started a long time ago,” Barrett said, adding his Christmas display started with a single snowman when his now-grown children were small. “It keeps growing more and more. ... We just added every year.”

Barrett said people’s interactions with deputies often aren’t always pleasant or they think officers are “grinches,” but he likes that children and neighbors enjoy his Halloween and Christmas displays and hopes it might help change that negative perception some people have of law enforcement.

“I’d do it if I was a deputy or not because it’s just what I want to do,” Barrett said. “But it gives people a better feeling.”

Both men have holiday decorating partners. Barrett said his wife, Corinne, takes care of the inside of the home as well as hanging the garland along an extensive fence line and 80 red bows.

“It’s a joint effort,” Barrett said. They often look for after-Christmas sales to keep the display growing.

Curry’s partner and chief designer is his 5-year-old son, Cameron. The boy is charged with deciding where the inflatables go, where most of the lights including small trees and arches are placed. Cameron and his father spend two 12-hour days setting it all up.

And the first time it’s all turned on, Cameron gets so excited he jumps up and down.

The deputy enjoyed decorating for the holidays, but it grew to a real passion after his son was born. He’d seen the computerized light displays, controlled by a main hub and a computer program, many years ago and finally got into it himself three years ago.

“I do it for me and him. It’s me and him time,” Curry said, adding he and his son often spend hours sitting across the street simply enjoying the result of their hard work. “It’s fun because it’s a me and Cameron thing. That’s why I enjoy it. I make memories for him.

“That’s what makes it worth it. I don’t care who sees it. As long as me and him set it up and enjoy it, that’s all that matters.”

Curry said it’s not unusual to have 10 or 15 cars lined up watching the show. Donned in pajamas, one family brings hot chocolate for a annual visit.

“That’s tradition,” Curry said. “That starts tradition. That wasn’t my intention, but I’m glad I can help some families do that.”

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