Creating Tri-County Christmas traditions
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By Connor Ashlock
While the weather is still permitting safe road travel and the Christmas season is still in full force, the idea of packing up the family and taking another tri-county road trip to see the lights doesn’t sound like a bad gig
at all.Below, The Journal outlined just some of the few places that the news office has heard of and have included some tips to make the trip more memorable. This year, people have responded to the gloominess of COVID in a marvelous way: people like never before have decorated their homes and businesses in honor of the Christmas season. As you drive around the region taking in the sights, you’ll come across many such places that were not featured in this article, so by all means snap a photo and spread the word so as many folks as possible can enjoy the hard work of those working to keep Christmas bright this year. Pack up the kids and head to Jerseyville, where the Downtown Country Christmas Festival, Inc. Volunteers kicked off their Bright Nights event this year, with tens of thousands of lights scattered all throughout the city. Dolan Park, where the community swimming pool is located, is adorned with approximately 50,000 lights, while Rotary Park, across the street from Dairyland on Route 16 going west, shines with nearly 10,000 white lights. There’s even a backdrop for a photo-op at the Rotary Park, where families can take a picture with the giant “Joy” sign. Don’t forget to check out the nearly two dozen window displays around the community, mostly centered around the downtown business district along Highway 67. One’s road trip also wouldn’t be complete without a visit over to Calhoun County, where brothers Jerry and Tony Sievers have been hard at work with their light displays at each other’s houses near Hardin. Christmas in the Woods on Sievers’ Lane comes alive every night at 5 p.m. and lights up the hills until 11 p.m. “There’s two portions on our display. On the south side of the house is the manger scene and is more traditional, but the front house For about five years, maybe a little longer, Jerry has been hosting and adding onto his computerized light display, which syncs his lights to Christmas music that can be enjoyed by tuning in to the radio station he has advertised when you pull in. “The display is in our yard,” Jerry said. “There’s about 30 minutes of music before it starts over again, so you can sit there as long as you want. Some stay a couple minutes, others stay a lot longer,” Jerry said This year, Jerry added a large sleigh that folks can sit in and take family pictures. To get to his house, one will want to come into Calhoun on the Joe Page Bridge, turning left to go into Hardin. At the stop sign, turn right and stay on that road until you get to the top of Rocky Hill. “We have a lighted arch at the beginning of our driveway on the left side. Go under that and follow our driveway all the way back,” Jerry said. Christmas in the Wood on Sievers’ Lane is a free display, although they do accept donations for county charities. “We have Santa’s mailbox set up in front of the sleigh where we are accepting donations for the Calhoun High School’s Warrior Food Bank and the county’s St. Vincent de Paul Society,” Jerry said. For those desiring more information or just to keep informed, one can follow Christmas in the Woods on Sievers’ Lane on Facebook. While over in Calhoun, don’t forget to stop by Jerry’s brother’s house just south of Hardin. Tony Sievers, along with his brother, have garnered quite the reputation in the region for their Christmas light displays. Tony’s display is known as Candy Cane Lane and boasts a more traditional setting featuring over 60,000 lights. “We are pretty well traditional,” Tony said. “We’ve got all our trees decorated and we do a lot of color. We also have a lot of characters from Rudolph and all kinds of other characters throughout the display.”
Like his brother, Tony also has a photo opportunity available for families. “We have a sleigh with reindeer to take pictures and we always have my great granddaughter’s plastic playhouse in the garden, styled to make it look like a little village,” Tony said. “We have people taking pictures all over the place.” Tony normally accepts donations for local charities, but with many people keeping things closed up this year, he mainly just focused on getting his display up and running. “We did have someone make a donation and we’re going to give that money to the Angel Tree program. If anyone donates anything more this year, they can expect it to go to a local charity,” Tony said. To get to Candy Cane Lane, one will need to go south out of Hardin a little ways and watch for Franklin Hill Road on your right. You’ll turn onto that road and drive about four miles, but take it easy on the road. “Just follow the road and you can’t miss our place. We’re up on a hill from the road and you just drive right up our driveway,” Tony explained. Those with questions can reach out to Candy Cane Lane Presented by Tony Sievers on Facebook. For all the trouble 2020 has been, this might just be the year to start a new family tradition, or at least rekindle an old one that has been neglected for a couple years. Some Christmas music here, some holiday treats there, and you’re bound to make the experience a memorable one for years to come. Also, it can’t be forgotten that by taking in the holiday sights in the tri-county region, you’ll be contributing to bringing the three counties closer together by mutually supporting one another in making Christmas merry.