PONCA, Neb. (KCAU) — Last year, Gene Watchorn’s Christmas light display drew 16,000 people to his home in Ponca, Nebraska. This year, he hopes to top that number and spread the spirit of Christmas to even more people.
“I start Labor Day weekend setting up and hopefully, I’m done by Thanksgiving,” said Watchorn.
Gene Watchorn has setup more than 100,000 Christmas lights, dozens of inflatables and 250 battery operated Santas, an impressive sight that won him ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” in 2018.
“I’ve always decorated and collected all my life. It got real crazy spoiling grandkids and stuff. Now, we have great-grandkids and we’re spoiling them,” said Watchorn.
But it’s not only his great-grand-kids that Watchorn is spoiling. He’s also spoiling the thousands of kids like 8-year-old Broady Keller, who visit his home in Ponca, Nebraska, every year with his grandmother.
“I like seeing all the decorations,” said Keller.
Jackson Elementary School in Ponca knows how much kids love touching and playing with the thousands of toy displays in the Watchorn home.
“We brought our kids out, the whole school, to see the lights, and play with the toys,” said Staci Pridie, Jackson Elementary School.
That’s why the school dedicates one field trip to the home during the holidays.
Staci Pridie, the lead teacher for Jackson Elementary School, chaperones the kids during the trip. She said it’s a trip the kids look forward to every year.
“It’s an amazing dedication to the community that they do this and they allow the kids to come out and go through all their stuff and touch and play with everything,” said Pridie.
It’s the joy of giving that makes it all worthwhile for Watchorn.
“I like to see the kids’ enjoyment and young and old enjoy it,” said Watchorn.
There’s no fee to visit Watchorn’s Winter Wonderland but they prefer people to set up an appointment before stopping, by calling 402-755-2655.