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The season of lights, and light bills

The Callaham family Christmas light display on the east side of Highway 305 near Seabold dazzles passing motorists each year. Camera bugs take note: this artful image by Review staff photographer Jesse Beals was shot at ISO 200, F-7.0 at 1 second, and “zooming the lens in and out.” - JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo
The Callaham family Christmas light display on the east side of Highway 305 near Seabold dazzles passing motorists each year. Camera bugs take note: this artful image by Review staff photographer Jesse Beals was shot at ISO 200, F-7.0 at 1 second, and “zooming the lens in and out.”
— image credit: JESSE BEALS/Staff Photo

A downtown merchant asks customers to show their appreciation.

Sandwiched between the gift wrapping and the baking is another island holiday tradition: driving down Highway 305 to see the lights.

Beckoning islanders is a jaw-dropping display near Seabold that fills three yards and roofs and gets grander each year.

The homes belong to Dorothy and Chuck Callaham; her sister and next-door neighbor, Lavon Bixenman; and, behind them, Dorothy’s nephew and his wife, Greg and Cindy Borgen.

For about 15 years, they have chosen to channel their Christmas joy into this creative labor of love.

In a gesture of thanks for all they do, Linda Allen has placed a collection jar in Fox Paw, her Winslow Way shop. All the money she receives will go to the Callahams to help offset their hefty December electric bill.

“You can’t believe it. It is totally over the top,” Allen said of the display. “I’ve never met the Callahams. I just appreciate the fact that they do this.”

Dorothy Callaham was surprised to hear about Allen’s gesture.

“That’s so nice, but she doesn’t have to do that,” Callaham said. “We don’t expect anything.”

Once she realized Allen was collecting money anyway, Callaham laughed and said, “That will be very nice. We’ll spread it out over the houses.”

Family members start decorating the weekend after Halloween. The lights are switched on at Thanksgiving and stay that way day and night.

“The first part of the year we start taking it down,” Callaham said. “We always test everything to make sure they’ll be ready for next year.

“It takes a while.”

Callaham decorates inside her home, too, “but not as much.”

Many people driving by show their appreciation by honking their horn, waving or coming up to the door to say thank you.

“We like people driving on the driveway so they don’t block the highway,” Callaham said. “We don’t mind that at all.”

Some drivers don’t like the lights. The Callahams hear that, too.

“Every year, historically, there are a few Grinch-y people who drive up there and they complain it’s a big distraction and people slow down to look at those yards,” Allen said. “But it’s the time of the year we should be slowing down and enjoying them.”

Allen plans to keep the collection jar up “however long they keep their lights up.”

“I think it’s a gesture from the people on the island. We have our own little extravaganza,” she said.

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