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TMT Farms Christmas lights to start shining Saturday
TMT Farms
In this file photo, Roy and Deborah Thompson wave to visitors and thank them for donations during their family's annual Christmas lights extravaganza at TMT Farms. After initially announcing the annual Christmas display of lights at TMT Farms would take the 2023 holiday season off, the Thompson family decided last month they would open TMT for a shorter season. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

After initially announcing the annual Christmas display of lights at TMT Farms would take the 2023 holiday season off, the Thompson family decided last month they would open TMT for a shorter season.

And opening night for the public is Saturday.

The TMT Farms exhibit, with a slightly shorter route – but not so much shorter that you’re likely to notice, Roy Thompson said – will open nightly beginning Saturday through Dec. 26 this year.

Actually, residents of area nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other assistance facilities have the first opportunity to enjoy TMT – the Thompsons are opening the exhibit exclusively for those groups on Friday evening.

As always, the display has no admission charge except the requested donation of long-shelf-life canned or packaged food items, a new toy for a child in need, pet food or cash.

“The other reason we are opening is we want to be able to continue to help people,” Thompson said. “We started that as our mission, and it has served well.”

Donated food items and many of the toys will be distributed, as in past years, through the local charity Christian Social Ministries. Last year, TMT visitors reportedly donated more than 95,000 pounds of food.

Some of this season’s toys, he said, will also be distributed through Chosen Soldiers Motorcycle Association, which plans to have a collection point at Portal.

The pet food donations are provided to the Bulloch County Animal Services shelter. Much of the contributed cash, Thompson said, goes to pay utility bills of people in need identified through power companies.

Roy Thompson is now in his seventh year as chairman of the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners, and he and his wife Deborah own Statesboro Floor Covering.

They and their two adult children and their spouses – Jennifer and Jeff McCranie and Tyler and Chrissee Thompson – and some members of a third generation have carried on and expanded the Christmas display each year with the help of donors and volunteers.

The display includes real and stage-set buildings, antique farm equipment, wagons, sleighs, Santas, fiberglass and inflatable animals, mannequins and replicas of historical Bulloch County landmarks such as Snooky’s restaurant, Henry’s barbershop and the former Pav-a-lon and pool from the Recreation Department’s Fair Road Park.

The lights come on automatically at dusk – usually between 5:30 and 6 p.m. – and stay on till dawn.

This year, many more lights will be added to the display, and the “town” portion of the exhibit is being reconfigured. A few more signs from Bulloch County sites of yesteryear have been added, Thompson said.


A holiday season off?

Back on Sept. 9, a message posted on the Thompson and McCranie families’ former “TMT Farm Christmas Lights Drive-Thru” Facebook page stated that “2022 was the last year” for the attraction.

It had grown over the past 25 years to extend almost two miles along unpaved farm roads off Old River Road North, drawing tens of thousands of visitors annually.

But Thompson then told the Statesboro Herald, as reported Sept. 12, that the families needed time off for a normal holiday or two but would bring the display back with some changes in the fall of 2024. For years the display had opened the evening of Thanksgiving Day.

Now that the display is back on and opening Saturday, Dec. 9. And weather permitting, it will be open up to 18 consecutive nights, including even Christmas Eve and the night of Christmas Day.


Volunteers assist

Volunteers from church groups, civic and service clubs, fire departments and law enforcement agencies are, as usual, helping to set up the display.

Other volunteers help on the nights the lights shine, and Thompson said he plans to have more of them on hand this year for increased security.

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