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Monday January 17th, 2022 1:40PM
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Gainesville father, son illuminate home with over 100k Christmas lights

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist

The Sexton family really knows how to get in the holiday spirit.

At exactly 5 p.m. on Thursday, their residence on Ashford Way in Gainesville illuminated in literally hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights.

The display is a labor of love for homeowner Chris Sexton and his son, Mason. Chris Sexton said they put around 75,000 lights up last year and had the goal to hit at least 100,000 this year.

"This year we were shooting for 100,000 and that will be the max we've ever shot for, as far as a goal," said Sexton. "We will surpass one hundred and probably a few over."

Sexton said Mason started showing an interest in outdoor decorating about five years ago. The pair usually starts decorating in early October. As of Tuesday, Sexton said they had put in around 80 hours of work and still had some left to do.

"I would say right at 80 hours, I'm just guessing...we counted the lightbulbs but we didn't do our time," he said, chuckling.

The Sextons wrapped Christmas lights around just about everything that stands in their yard, except their vehicles. They even created what refered to as “homemade trees” by putting a pole in the ground and draping lights around it to create the shape of a tree. 

Sexton said they add something new to the display each year. A few years ago it was the bulb lights that are clipped to the fence posts. Another year it was the 12-foot-tall cross that stands in the backyard.

This year the Sextons laid white lights across their yard so literally ever spot in the yard is covered in lights.

However, the Sextons are not the only ones getting in on the light displays. Their neighbors across the street, David and Kathleen Rawls, also decorated their yards with thousands of lights.

According to Kathleen Rawls, there are around a quarter of a million lights on display between the two homes. She said in addition to the lights, motorists can tune in to 105.5 FM for a little bit of Christmas music to cruise to while they enjoy the display. 

Sexton said his favorite part of his display is a 40-foot-tall Sweetgum tree with blue lights wrapped around to the very top- another new addition to the display.

"The last two or three years it's been red and this is the first year we decided to do blue," said Sexton. "With the dripping lights it looks amazing...that was the first thing we put up."

Sexton said he has had a passion for putting up Christmas lights since he was a young man. He really got into when he and his wife got married 31 years ago and has been decorating their home on Ashford Way since they moved in 18 years ago.

He said Mason took an interest in the lights around five years ago. Now father is passing down the love of outdoor Christmas decor to son.

"We go back and look at the photos and videos that we took...we look at the year and go, 'wow, that was 2019!'" said Sexton. "It's pretty neat to see that and the time that we have been able to spend together on it."

Sexton said they purchase new lights each year from either a Christmas store in Pigeon Forge or online. Despite the amount of lights and power required to keep them running, Sexton said he keeps his power bill relatively low by using LED lights. 

Over the years, the house has become a well-known attraction in the area. Sexton said people have stopped by in the last few days to ask if they are still doing the display this year.

"We told them we'll be lighting up Thanksgiving night," said Sexton. "We do it for us and for anybody that wants to come by and view it."

The lights are timed so they will turn on at 5 p.m. each night and turn off at 11 p.m. Sexton said the lights will turn on every night between now and New Year’s Eve. 

Kathleen Rawls said they will follow the same plan with their lights.

The address for the Sexton display is 4136 Ashford Way in Gainesville. The Rawls are directly across the street at 4135 Ashford Way.

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  • Associated Tags: gainesville, Christmas, Christmas lights, Sexton, Ashford Way
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