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Lighting up the holiday season

Those who drive down Lincolnton’s Aspen Street this holiday season may find themselves hitting the brakes and staring in awe.
There, on the side of the road, is a testament to Christmas decoration excess: a mobile home with manger scenes, green wreaths and thousands of Christmas lights filling its yard.
“I always liked to decorate for Christmas since I was a little girl,” said Elaine Burgess, owner of the impressive home and yard. “I just enjoy doing it.”
Burgess’ husband was the first one to give her lights and ornaments to decorate the yard, telling people “I buy her decorations, and she puts them up.”
The couple started the Christmas tradition in the late ’80s, and it has been gaining steam ever since.
“When we first started we just had a few lights, and we added more each year,” Burgess said.
Her husband, Don, passed away in November 1998 from a heart attack just after putting up Christmas lights one evening.
“If it was up to me, these lights wouldn’t be up here because it reminds me too much of my husband,” Burgess said.
Her son, Michael Patterson, has since taken over the tradition. As a special addition this year, Patterson has put a sign dedicated to the memory of his father and grandparents under a Christmas tree near the road.
Decorating for this year’s Christmas spectacular began in late October when the family put up lights and lawn figurines.
“When he’s not on the job, he works on it and keeps going till Christmas,” Burgess said.
Burgess’ grandchildren are also eager to set up decorations
“I look forward to it every year,” said Justin Patterson, a grandchild.
Despite all the lights, the Burgess’ power bill doesn’t increase much during the holidays.
“People think it goes up, but it doesn’t. Maybe increases $10 to $15 a month,” she said.
That extra $10 to $15 a month provides a beautiful Christmas show for locals — a circular drive was constructed just so passersby could stop and enjoy the view.
“It’s busy just about every night. On the weekends, we have about three or four cars a time stop,” Burgess said. “That is what Christmas is — seeing all the kids and older people enjoy.”
Visitors include people of all ages from nursing home residents to elementary-school students. Burgess’ favorite visitors are the children.
“That main thing is seeing all the kids enjoy the lights,” Burgess said. “When Don was living he would make a big pot of hot chocolate for everyone.”
For those who do enjoy the site, young or old, Burgess has set up a donation box. Funds go to helping with power bills and buying additional decorations.
“Every little bit helps,” she said.
The donations, however, aren’t that impressive. This year the family has only received $13 in cash. There was also a gift card worth $20.
“The note said the admirer came out of her way just to see the lights,” Burgess said. “I thought that was awfully sweet, and I wish I knew who it was.”
Her son plans to continue decorating, something appreciated not only by his family, but also by Lincolnton residents who enjoy the holiday tradition.
“I don’t think there is anyone in Lincolnton that doesn’t know where I live,” Burgess said. “I’ll tell people ‘I live where all the lights are on Aspen Street’ and they know exactly where I live.”

This lit up manger scene is made complete with Joseph, Mary, wise men and, of course, the baby Jesus. Chris Dean / LTN photo

by Maribeth Kiser

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