Traditional Christmas lighting interrupted by flood

Lee Co. Christmas Lights Display

LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - A 15 year tradition of Christmas lighting by a Lee County family will not be the same this year because of the heavy rains and flooding.

This is the first year the Clay family missed their mark of turning on their lights because of the storm damage they’ve experienced.

Though it isn’t their normal light attraction, it was important to them to put up what they could for their community.

It’s a Christmas tradition that everyone in the neighborhood looks forward to.

“It’s for all the kids and the season, it’s what it’s all about,” said Randy Smith, a neighbor.

But this year, the Winter Wonderland on Story Lane was covered in water, causing the Clay family to only light the front of their home.

A 15-year tradition of Christmas lighting by a Lee County family will not be the same due this year, because of the heavy rains and flooding. (Source: WALB)
A 15-year tradition of Christmas lighting by a Lee County family will not be the same due this year, because of the heavy rains and flooding. (Source: WALB)

“It stayed up for six days and the flooding came Saturday night. We woke up Sunday morning and our whole backyard was flooded all of our ornaments we have in the yard are all underwater,” said Gina Clay, one of the homeowners.

The Clay’s house first sustained damage in Hurricane Michael. Then Sunday the rains did more.

Normally, folks could take a train ride in the back and walk through their exhibit.

“This year it’s going to be a short walk,” said John Clay, Gina’s husband.

What’s normally an 80,000 light display, was cut down and there’s a possibility of more being damaged.

“We can’t do anything until the water dries up and with the weather coming in this weekend it’s going to be even worse,” said John.

That didn’t stop them from serving their community the way they know how.

Gina and John Clay. (Source: WALB)
Gina and John Clay. (Source: WALB)

“I didn’t know if they would do it but with all the flooding they did and my hat’s off to them,” Smith explained.

“We wasn’t going to light up because we did loose our roof, we do have a lot of property damage. But this is a way of giving normal back to some of the people that’s been here for the last 20 years,” said John.

John also said though it isn’t their usual array of lights, it’s a way to strengthen the community after the storms.

“There’s a lot of people in our neighborhood that have water damage so we are not going to cry about the lights we’re just going to let them dry, pick them up , salvage what we can and go back to business next year,” said John.

The Clay family will still be giving train rides to kids, but just in the front of their house.

Also a part of the Clay family's lighting display in past years was collecting to give to those less fortunate in the holiday season.

Though they won’t be able to collect this year, they encourage South Georgians to still donate to other local causes.

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