2006 – Marshall, TX

Every year, my mother-in-law tries to take all her grandkids on some kind of trip. Sometimes we tag along. This year, my sister-in-law got an idea that we should all go along and check out the Christmas lights in Marshall, Texas. I’m not sure where she got the idea. Supposedly they have cool lights there.

So as soon as the kids were done with their 1/2 day of school, we (14 of us) piled into a couple of vans and hit the road for a 3-hr drive to … Marshall, TX, a quaint town in East Texas (where the trees are tall). The courthouse and town square was a pretty cool place. They had a skating rink. ..and vendors selling hot chocolate, hotdogs, popcorn, etc. Daniel kept wanting to eat. No surprise there.

“Hey, DAAAD! Can we go ICE SKATING??”

“ummm sure.” I figured $8 per-person to skate was only slightly highway robbery, so I took the kids while Sheryl hung out with the old folks (her mom, sister and her hubby ;).

“WOAH!! You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna do TRICKS like ‘Ice Princess’!!!”

“Uhhh.. why don’t we just see if we can stay standing before we try spinning?”

I was surprised at how well Daniel did. Not only was it the first time for this 5-yr old to try ice-skating, but the rental skates were down-right HORRIBLE!! It’s a wonder that any of us could even stand up!

I asked one of the attendants if we could get the blades sharpened. “Ummmm. .. naw.” Maybe he didn’t know you could sharpen blades.

NoelleThe rink was about 100′ x 30′. Pretty small, I thought. Once you got 30 people skating, we were all crowded – but it didn’t matter. As bad as the skates were, it’s not like you could go fast or anything.
MicahYa know, I swear… If you’re taking a photo of anything, she jumps into the picture to be seen. But if you try to take a picture of her, she ducks and runs. Oh, to be 12 again.

So I figured I’d take a picture of the skating rink wall.


Sheryl took Daniel and Autumn (our niece) to go sit in Santa’s lap.The tinsel on the ropes were too cool-looking to be left alone. So naturally, they skipped around on them.
“What do you want for Christmas, son?”It was Daniel’s first time to sit in Santa’s lap – ever. But no one’s ever called him bashful. The boy has no concept of “stranger” – even if the person’s wearing a funny red suit.

“Ummmm… lemme think about it. Hmmmmm. Oh, nothing, I guess. I don’t care.”

“Well, son, we’ll see if we can get you something special!”

“Ok! Bye. Hey, AUTUMN! Come on! Let’s go jump those green things again!”

I don’t know why he’s always yelling.

The waitress at Applebee’s was a little slow – or something. By the time we were done, we were sure that everyone had turned off their Christmas lights. But you can’t drive 3 hours for nothing, so we decided to hit up a couple of neighborhoods.The first couple of neighborhoods were duds, even though the map we got at the Courthouse said this was “the place to be”. After a little driving around, we did find a couple of cool places.
Well, after about 20 minutes of driving around, I figured that was more fun than I could handle. Besides, most of the homes had apparently turned off their lights. My sis-in-law and her family were staying the night in a hotel, but I had to work, so we headed back home.
About 10 miles out of Marshall, we spotted a bunch of lights off on the side of the road and made a U-turn to check them out (wouldn’t you know it, the next exit was “only” 11 miles down the road). Apparently some old geezer had a few too many Christmas lights, so he sectioned off about 8 acres of his property and cut out a path that you could drive down.This carousel actually moved. Pretty neat.
Folks.. this here is what America’s all about!I wonder if the old geezer was related to the guy in Minnesota that has the world’s largest ball of twine?
I figure it must have taken several years to put up all the lights.We had to pay $15 for the carload, but hey.. no point in driving 6 hours and not seeing some lights.
Most of the lights were in sections based on a theme.To give you an idea of how large this was, the Jesus figure in the middle is roughly life-sized.

He wasn’t missing any thumbs. I checked.

We kept wondering what his electric bill looks like.

The geezer had several tunnels like this, especially between the sections.
Some of the sections had some pretty oddball stuff in it.I have no idea what the building was supposed to be, but there’s actually 2 of them. The front building (next to the black Santa) was a tollbooth with another mannequin in it.
Here’s Santa’s workshop. The dolls here looked kinda spooky too.
I didn’t stop the car when taking this photo, wondering if the effect of the moving car in the tunnel of lights would look interesting.Kinda.
The old geezer didn’t just have a manger scene – he had the whole town of Bethlehem!The characters here are life-sized.
Some of the characters were mannequins from .. who knows!This was supposed to be Mary (I think) with either a 5-o’clock shadow or her face burned off. Kinda hard to get that shot right, but oh, well.

All in all, it was an interesting trip – but ..well… maybe we’ll go to a dude ranch for next year’s trip.