GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WRIC) — With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic keeping people socially distant, tacky light tours may look and feel a little different at some participating houses.
Al Thompson, the mastermind behind “Christmas on Wendhurst” in Glen Allen, says some other “big light houses” are choosing not to set up their displays this year. But he says this year, it was important for him to keep the tradition going.
“Back in the summer when the wife and I were trying to decide if we were gonna do it this year or not, because of the virus and so on, we said probably this year more than any other year we should do it,” Thompson said.
However, he and his wife, Esther, did face some other decisions. Like how to maintain distance and keep people safe while inviting people from all around the nation to his light display.
Thompson said in his 22 years setting up lights, he has never had to deal with a pandemic so he is trying to remain careful, but also give people a sense of normalcy again.
Their usual Santa Claus will continue social distancing at the North Pole and won’t be making it to Wendhurst, and they aren’t passing out candy canes like they have in years past.
And he plans on taping off six-foot markers to provide a safe way to view the lights while in a crowd.
In addition to turning off his lights at 10 p.m. on weeknights, and 11 p.m. sharp on Fridays and Saturdays, he also said he does what he can to keep people as safe as possible.
“I realize that people are putting up with a lot here, and I do the best I can with hiring police officers. That’s very expensive but I do it. I’m out here trying to keep an eye,” Thompson said.
But life wouldn’t feel the same for Thompson if he didn’t get to set up his decorations.
“We always start decorating around September 1. It takes us a little over 600 hours to put it up, so it takes us two and a half months,” Thompson said. “Everything here is homemade. I have made every decoration here. This year is a little over 300 decorations, and we are up to 1,771 homemade decorations here.”
He says that this year, Christmas is needed more than ever. And he will do what it takes to keep people safe so people can still be merry.
“Christmas on Wendhurst” will start lighting it’s display on Thanksgiving evening.
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