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Residents take pride in decking out their homes and yards with festive – and often elaborate – displays

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The story of one of the numerous Hancock County homes decorated for the holidays pictured here.


GREENFIELD — They call it the Ruby Forest.

For the holiday season, the front yard of Greg Chaney’s Greenfield home in the 500 block of North Windswept Road has been transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with 21 trees of varying sizes in shades of red and white.

Chaney said he has always enjoyed a good light display, but he’s never made an attempt at a theme for his own house before now.

“This is my first year of really getting kind of crazy at it,” he said. “I’m kind of a techno geek anyway.”

His brand of crazy includes a 20-foot tree fashioned from the top of his flag pole and 10,000 bulbs lighting the front-yard forest display. He installed two exterior circuits just to accommodate the lights.

Chaney said compared to some, his setup is conservative. But he believes in keeping his holiday decor tasteful – not to mention affordable.

“That’s why I haven’t really done the computer animation, because that requires a healthy investment,” he said.

Instead, Chaney has found spiral trees and many of his other decorations at Goodwill.

Chaney is a member of the Indiana Christmas Enthusiasts, which he jokingly calls “a group of crazy people.”

At the group’s last convention, one of the speakers talked about the benefits of having a themed display. And so, the Ruby Forest was born.

Some of Chaney’s trees are nothing more than tomato cages wrapped with chicken wire and Christmas lights. He turned off the green lights on some of his strands in order to keep to the color scheme.

Chaney purchased the tomato-cage trees from a fellow member of the Indiana Christmas Enthusiasts after the man told members he’d have to scale back his décor because of medical issues.

“His doctor told him his heart couldn’t take his Christmas display,” he said. “I bought as many as would fit in my pickup truck.”

Chaney said his wife, Janet, is almost embarrassed by his enthusiasm, but she came around.

“You know, he didn’t even ask me, he just did it,” she said. “I came home and it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’

“But it’s pretty. He’s very proud that he has a theme.”

Janet’s one request was that her husband maintain the family’s tradition of attaching a lighted star to the top of his 55-foot radio tower.

Each year, the highest point of the display has to be redone, thanks to lightning strikes and other unexpected calamities, she said.

“It has to be done almost every year because the star never survives,” she said.

The couple’s daughter, Kathleen, 21, is home on break from college at Anderson University, where she is studying psychology. She has enjoyed the transformed front yard.

“I think it’s really awesome,” she said. “I just think Christmas lights are really fun. It’s kind of nice to come home from school, and the whole yard is lit up.”

Chaney already has his mind on what he might do next Christmas. Before the season is over, he expects to drive around the neighborhood and poach any exceptional ideas.

“It seems like there’s a lot more people doing a lot more stuff,” he said. “Everybody has the same goal, to try to put on the best shows possible.”

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