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A labor of love

... with a little help from friends

Staff writer

Gordon and Judy Pendergraft moved to Marion County Park and Lake in 1991, and every year they put up a spectacular display of Christmas decorations.

The decorations, which are best viewed from the stone arch bridge on Lakeshore Drive, were all custom made.

Putting up the decorations isn’t an easy task. Gordon Pendergraft estimated it takes 15 to 18 hours just to get the decorations set up, and that doesn’t include the five truck loads to get the decorations out of storage.

“I bet I have two miles of extension cords,” he said.

The centerpiece of the display is Santa Claus’ sleigh and reindeer, rising above the water of the lake. The piece was made with help from Duane Koehn of Burns. Koehn shaped the reindeer out of rebar, and Pendergraft welded the structure together.

It takes five people to get the sleigh in position and secured. On Nov. 23, Pendergraft put up the sleigh with help from Tim Christensen, Lin Slifer, John Dicks, all of Marion, and Koehn.

The Pendergrafts added an American flag to the sleigh in 2001, in remembrance of the attacks on America.

After winning several Christmas decoration contests, the Pendergrafts received a lifetime-achievement award in 1998 from Marion Chamber of Commerce.

It takes some trial and error to arrange the lights to avoid tripping a circuit breaker, Judy Pendergraft said.

“At one time we had 15,000 lights,” she said. They have stopped counting since then.

The lights use nine timers, set to light the display from 5 to 10 p.m.

“It’s really pretty when it snows,” Judy Pendergraft said. “It just glistens.”

The decorations will be up until around Dec. 31. For the month of December, the lights add approximately $75 to the Pendergrafts’ electric bill.

Last modified Dec. 3, 2008

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