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2006 Tour of Lights: County towns light up night

Brooklet, Portal and Register have a lot to offer

    Note: This is the last in a series of three stories offering guidelines regarding notable holiday displays in the area. Enjoy!
    When Santa stops in Portal, Register, Brooklet and Middleground, he will no doubt be amazed at the festive displays of Christmas lights, figures and decorations folks have arranged at their homes.
    In Portal, Woods Avenue has a gorgeous old home that reminds one of old-timey Christmas cards, with lights and red on white colors.              Neighbors down the street and across the road welcome Santa with colorful displays as well, and a drive down the Portal-Rocky Ford Road brings about some cute scenery. Take a side trip down the quiet neighborhood streets and explore the area, enjoying the homes decorated for Christmas.
    Several homes along Portal’s Main Street (U.S. 80 West) are pretty impressive, too.
    Don’t forget Cornell Burgess’ home on Brack Road, just off Portal-Metter Highway a few miles out of Portal. After 16 years of delighting people with his indescribable display, Burgess is retiring, so this is your last chance.
    This isn’t just a display — it is a drive-through spiritual experience. The true meaning of Christmas is evident in several lighted messages and nativity scenes, but the whimsical side of the holiday is represented as well with toy soldiers, snowmen, reindeer, Santas, penguins, polar bears - you name it, it’s there. If nothing else, take the time to drive out to this display that is done as a tribute to Jesus Christ as well as the magic of a child’s Christmas.
    If you are driving down Middleground Road, a lighted fence protects a forest of lighted trees and at another home, a host of holiday characters sparkle in the colored lights.
    Take a right onto Metts Road heading towards Clito and drive past Smith Steel Structures, where the home is covered in lights. Reindeer take off from this house as well, and Santa and Mrs. Claus are seen sitting on the swing on someone’s front porch.
    The drive to Roy and Debra Thompson’s home on Old River Road North may take a few minutes, but the ride is well worth the time. Take Lakeview Road to Old River Road North, turning left at the intersection. Drive just over four miles and you can’t miss the entrance.
    Rope lights adorn a tall pole archway, and red lights glow in the trees. White icicles hang along the fence line, and a Nativity scene with a Star of Bethlehem stands beside a wooden cross draped in purple.
    An inflatable snow globe sits next to a stack of twinkling gifts and Santa sits with Mrs. Claus in a sleigh parked underneath a flagpole.
    But there’s more. Drive a bit further down the dirt driveway and see a helicopter in motion lights appearing as if it is about to take off. Lighted Disney characters smile beside it, while across the lane an inflatable Spongebob Santa bobs in the wind beside a Grinch and snow globe carousels.
    Nearby a lighted Christmas tree sparkles beside two hunting dog statues.. Santa is in a sleigh here as well, and a bit further down an antique truck is dressed for the occasion with bells and ribbons.
    No, it’s far from over. Reindeer graze beside an old railway car, and one of the Thompson’s adult children live nearby in a gaily decorated home. A wreath graces an old wagon. A moonshine still (non-operational) is guarded by hillbillies dressed in holiday garb, and Santa stands beside a snowman as if he is waiting for a sample.
    Mrs. Claus sits patiently beside the two-seater outhouse (really a pump house) and there, beside a replica of a livery stable, Santa sings and dances while elves look on.
    Motion lights and other Christmas figurines are scattered throughout the woods between the Thompson’s many outbuildings, home and those of  their children. The trip down “Thompson Lane” is the ultimate Christmas experience.
    There is another home at the other end of Old River Road North, and the best way to access Rozina Shatteen’s house is from U.S. 301 North.
    Turning onto Old River Road North, look for her home with a star on the chimney and icicle lights casting a crystalline glow over seven Christmas trees - two multicolored and the rest lighted in white.
    Two soldiers stand guard over reindeer and light strings grace fence lines and sidewalks. There is also a Nativity scene, and one of Shatteen’s neighbors has decorated as well, with “lights, lights and more lights!”
    Just down the road on R. L. Lee Road, Kesha Ward transformed Brenda Alston’s home into a winter wonderland with strings of lights in different colors glistening on the shrubs and fence, and icicle lights along the fence row casting a peaceful glow over the neighborhood, just inviting Santa to stop.
    Heading back towards Statesboro,  driving to U.S. 301 North, be sure to pull over and enjoy the Deloach residence, where a riot of motion lights, nativity scenes, angels, arches and messages such as “Christ is Born” and “Merry Christmas” capture the season’s spirit.
    On the other side of the county, Brooklet glows with the Christmas spirit as well. Take a cruise down East and West Lee and Lane streets, then peruse the other portions of the neighborhood as well. Don’t forget Water’s Mobile Home Park or the homes along U.S. 80 East just outside of town. Take a detour of Cambridge Subdivision and Lenox Hills to see the variety of decorating styles. One house near the entrance of Cambridge is unusually decorated with green lights mixed with white and is a different take on holiday decorating.
    Don’t forget Register! The quaint  little town has plenty of folks there who have decorated for the holidays. Don’t just drive through - peruse the side streets, then take off down Ga. 46 towards Metter on your way to Guido Gardens, where there are several beautifully decorated and lighted residences on the way.

    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at 489-9414.

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