December 2, 2008
Worth Co. - A little ways off Airport Road in west Worth County at 211 Ramblewood Road sits a Christmas gift for everyone who comes by. No need to get out of your car. The gift is an unforgettable Christmas light show.
"Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000(lights)," says a proud Robb Williams.
In the daytime it's hard to imagine 40,000 lights strung throughout seven-and-a-half acres because Robb placed them so well. At night, the lights turn his home into a Christmas spectacular.
Nothing is hap-hazard about the display. He spent a week planning where every light and every display would sit, to the point of literally color coordinating them for maximum effect against the dark of night.
"It takes about two days to place the lights. My daughter takes a week of her vacation to help me put them out," says Robb as he drives his golf cart throughout the display.
One strand of lights on the split-rail fence he made doesn't work for some reason. He drives over to investigate. At worse, he'll put a working strand on top if he can't fix it immediately. His Christmas light show must go on.
Robb's love for Christmas started as a young boy.
"We didn't have electricity until I was 16 years-old," says Robb. "My mother and dad were big Christmas fans. Christmas was the big time of the year. We didn't celebrate birthdays too much, didn't celebrate a lot of other occasions, but we celebrated Christmas. We always went all out for Christmas and that's why I love it so."
The love never waned.
"There're 18 displays on-the-ground," says Robb and lights everywhere, hanging on fences, encircling his home.
He's come to expect a Grinch to try and spoil his joy. On December 15, 2007, a tornado blew in from the southwest, tore the roof off his home and scrambled all his decorations. Robb remembers his Nativity scene blown across the road with some of the other displays literally thrown into pine tree limbs. Luckily none of his visiting family members got hurt.
"Church members came and helped me clean up the yard and we got that done rather quickly," says Robb. "It took a week for me to re-build the Christmas lights."
The Grinch finds a great place to cause problems is with Robb's 40,000 lights. He spends about two weeks literally testing every strand and always finds bulbs blown. A tester, that looks like a plastic gun, checks the bulbs and wiring, pinpointing the problem. A pocketknife and electrical tape, along with fuses and replacement bulbs make-up his first aid kit.
"I usually buy three to four thousand lights after Christmas," says Robb to replace those the Grinch claimed.
He frequently shops after-Christmas clearance sales.
"I got a truckload of lights for $40," says Robb proudly.
A strand that works one night might not work the second night.
He thinks about his light show year ‘round.
"When I'm out driving the tractor I think about where I can put a display," says Robb.
What about future light shows?
"I probably won't add any more (lights). I've about used up all the electricity that I have available," says Robb.
It takes eight receptacles to connect all the extension cables for the lights, and his power bill runs about $100 more per month during holidays, but he doesn't care.
"I love to see other people enjoy it," says Robb.
He started decorating his yard 16 years ago, 10 years when he lived in South Carolina and six years in Worth County where he and his wife, Jean, retired.
"I've got the ground to put them on, the electricity to run them. I had the money to buy the lights and so I just put them up and everybody likes them, "says Robb.
Cars will line-up on Ramblewood Road to see his gift, with people hopping out of cars to take pictures to remember their visit. The closer to Christmas, the more people will come by.
"There will be a string of cars," says Robb, and that suits him just fine.
He turns them on at dark and off at about 10pm. He doesn't turn them on if it's raining for safety reasons. He brings the yearly show to an end on New Year's night.
"I just as soon the kids didn't get me anything; just let me have my Christmas with my lights and enjoy that," says Robb.
It's doubtful they could stop him from sharing his joy with others.
"It's joy to me to see people laugh. If I can see people laugh about something done here, the hallelujah."
Robb Williams lives at 211 Ramblewood Road near Sylvester's airport. When traveling west on highway 82/520, go about two miles west of Sylvester's city limits, turn right on Airport Road (NOT Massey Airport Road). Travel about three-tents of a mile north and turn at the first paved road to the right (Ramblewood isn't marked). Look to the right and you'll see Robb's lighted gift twinkling about two-tenths of a mile away.
Traveling east on highway 82/520, look for the Airport Road sign about 5.4 miles east of the Dougherty/Worth County line. Turn left and travel north about three-tenths of a mile. Take a right on the first paved road (Ramblewood, but it isn't marked). Look to your right and you'll see Robb's light gift about two-tenths of a mile ahead.
He turns the lights on at dark and off at about 10pm, and doesn't turn them on for safety reasons on rainy nights. He ends the show on New Year's night.