By Kristin Fox
For the last 34 years, one local man has given the community a special Christmas gift, a gift that many look forward to every year. This year his gift has grown to include 100,000 Christmaslights spread throughout his yard off Rabbit Creek Road.
Since they moved to Franklin in 1988, Fred and Eva Haller have put on a spectacular light display at what is known as the “Christmas House” for the community to enjoy from December 1 through January 1. Each year since they started doing it, the display has continued to grow. There are lights everywhere on the Haller homeplace. Their house is decorated with lights, the porch has Christmas trees with lights, and the yard is full of trees and decorative cutoffs all adorned with lights.
The Christmas display features a working swing, Ferris wheel and merry go round. The yard is full of handmade, hand paintedcutoff decorations including toy soldiers, penguins and snowmen, the Peanuts gang, the Wizard of Oz and nativity sceneto name a few. The display also features an ice-skating pondcomplete with moving ice skaters. There are 40 handmade lighted Christmas trees scattered throughout the display.
While Fred doesn’t have a favorite decoration, he loves them all, his wife thinks the Wizard of Oz decorations are the cutest.
“We just like doing it for the community,” said Fred. “Each year it has gotten bigger and bigger. It’s never really done; each year we buy more lights and add something new to the display.”
“I make everything myself,” he added. “I don’t buy store bought stuff. If I don’t make it, I don’t put it out.”
Each year, the Christmas displays and lights are put up and taken down. Before hanging the lights and putting out the displays, Fred tests each strand of lights to make sure they all work. He also tests them again before packing them away for the next year.
Beginning the day after Halloween, the Haller’s begin transforming their yard into a Christmas wonderland. It takes every weekend in November to get the yard and house decorated and ready for the public.
The Haller’s used to have a group of friends that would help put up the decorations and lights, and then they would all celebrate with a Christmas party. Now that many of them have passed away, the Haller family has taken their place. The Haller’s are blessed with 8 children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren many of whom live in Franklin.
After having heart issues a few years ago, Fred and Eva’s children decided that their father couldn’t do it by himself anymore, but that they wanted to keep the tradition going, so they now have made have it an annual family affair.
At 92, Fred may not be able to do all the work for the display, but don’t think he doesn’t supervise how everything is decorated. He closely supervises his 25 family elves that come to put up the display and hang the lights.
“I tell them they have to work every weekend in November to get it all done,” said Fred.
“Of course, Fred supervises everything, and all is done to his specifications and directions,” said Eva. “He supervises it all,and everything is done just they way he wants it.”
“He takes great pleasure in doing this every year,” she added. “You would think people would get tired of them, but they don’t. We don’t, we enjoy doing it every year. And we enjoy watching all the people coming by to look at the lights.”
“We have one visitor who said his parents used to bring him out to see our place when he was little, and now he is bringing his kids to see it,” said Eva. “Someone who lives in the community sent us a Christmas card stating how they enjoy seeing the lights every day when they drive by.”
After retiring, the couple moved to Franklin from Florida.
“We used to come camping at the Old Corundum MillsiteCampground, and we just decided that this is where we wanted to live after we retired,” said Eva. “We have never regretted it; we love this area.”
“When we were looking for a house, this house had a good size tree in the front yard,” said Eva. “I swear that is what sold the house to Fred, because the first thing he did was decorate that tree.”
The Haller’s have always given to the local community. After retiring here, they stayed busy volunteering. For many years, Fred volunteered his time doing trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail. Fred and Eva both did volunteer AARP tax return work. The couple also was active in the Macon County Senior Games for 30 years competing in 35 events. Fred served as the president of the senior games for 30 years.
Stop by the Haller’s at 32 Hollyview Circle, Franklin, to enjoy their Christmas lights through New Year’s Day. You won’t be disappointed.