Good Life

Park Forest neighbors come together to illuminate holiday spirit

David Stone, right, Melissa Stone and their daughter Abby Stone, 6, smile for a portrait with a multicolored ball of light made from chicken wire on Tuesday in their neighborhood in Park Forest.
David Stone, right, Melissa Stone and their daughter Abby Stone, 6, smile for a portrait with a multicolored ball of light made from chicken wire on Tuesday in their neighborhood in Park Forest. psheehan@centredaily.com

Darkness makes for the best magician’s assistant.

Without it, the balls of lights and chicken wire suspended from oak trees distributed with some frequency among a block of houses located along Devonshire Drive in Park Forest wouldn’t seem quite as ethereal.

As it stands, there’s a Disney quality to the whole neighborhood, like you’ve made a wrong turn and came out on a random street in Epcot somewhere.

“I think it does give a sense of pride in the neighborhood,” project leader David Stone said.

I think it does give a sense of pride in the neighborhood.

David Stone

For Stone, the true inspiration was always Marietta, Georgia. The Devonshire Drive denizen was visiting family there when he came across a neighborhood mimicking a light design made popular a few states up.

Citizens of Greensboro, North Carolina, used “lighted Christmas balls” to raise awareness about hunger.

Stone found instructions on how to create the decorations online and kept floating the idea at neighborhood functions throughout the year. Last August, he held workshop for friends willing to brave strings of lights and chicken wire in preparation for the holiday season.

That was adults getting to play like little kids.

Mike Duffey

Now comes the exciting part. The unwrapping of the gifts, if you will.

“It’s so fun to walk up and down the street and just seeing the glowing lights going up and down the block,” neighbor Mike Duffey said.

Duffey, who has lived with his family at Devonshire Drive for 11 years, assisted Stone with hanging the finished light balls (picture electric-powered tumbleweeds) from different trees across the block.

They used an air compressor canon to reach some of the higher branches.

“That was adults getting to play like little kids,” Duffey said.

So far, the display seems to have had the intended effect. Stone said he has noticed cars slowing down as they drive through the neighborhood.

Were they to make the display a tradition, Stone would like to take yet another cue from the folks in Greensboro.

“I would love to see it connect to some sort of cause,” Stone said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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