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By Carmen Ensinger
It was a cold and rainy Saturday morning, but despite the chill and the dampness, Denny Vetter had a warm and fuzzy feeling inside as he and some friends presented Boyd Hospital CEO Debbie Campbell with a donation of $3,500 for the hospital’s Gas Cards for Cancer program.
This money is the proceeds from the donation box Vetter had placed at Haypress Falls – a remarkable holiday light display that Vetter and his wife, Sherry, have had at their rural Greene County home since 2005.
“All of this is possible because of the many people who are willing to come out and drive through our display,” Vetter said. “Some of them drive a great distance every year just to come and see us. We have a book and we ask people to sign the book and let us know where they are from. A lot of them drive 75 miles or more and each year we have people from six or seven different states – usually relatives that are visiting people who live here.”
This year that book of names contains 43 pages. Some of the more famous names include Mickey Mouse and at least one or more presidents.
For a little background on Haypress Falls, it started out as simply a waterfall – something Vetter always wanted to have at his home.
“Living around the rivers in Apple Creek, I always wanted to have a waterfall here at my house and because I live on kind of a hillside, it was a perfect place to construct one,” he said. “I pump the water up from the creek to the top and then it drains down so there is a natural flow.”
So, in 2005, he created Haypress Falls using materials he had laying around the house and the farm. When the holiday season rolled around, he decided to add some lights to it.
“Before long, I had people giving me lights and decorations that they didn’t want anymore and it just kept growing right along with the waterfall,” Vetter said. “I think next year we might think about going with LED lights.”
Vetter has never charged anyone to come out and drive through Haypress Falls and never will, but six years ago, a friend made a suggestion to him.
“This buddy of mine said to me, ‘why don’t you put up a donation box and let people donate money and then you can give the money to some charity,’” Vetter said. “I really didn’t think people would donate, but they did.”
That they did. The first year they took in $1,500. The second year the amount grew to $2,000. By the third year, it was up to $2,500 and by year four it had grown to $3,000. Last year, during the height of COVID, the donation box was overflowing with $4,000 raised for the Gas Card program. This year, which was a short year because Vetter didn’t open till Dec. 4, brought in $3,500 for a total of $16,500 over the last six years.
Campbell said the donations to the Gas Cards for Cancer program are much appreciated.
“This donation is going to help us tremendously,” Campbell said. “Their donations these past years has helped so many cancer patients get to their treatments. Since we now also include cancer patients from Calhoun County, it is needed more than ever.”
Helping Vetter deliver the donation this year was Prancer, a 20-year-old reindeer, owned by Ed Nolan, who gladly posed with pictures in an antique sleigh on the weekends at Haypress Falls.
Haypress Falls is also home to Nolan’s Petting Zoo, so in addition to an impressive holiday light display, there is also a variety of animals to visit. The Nolan’s are as much a part of Haypress Falls as the Vetter’s are and Vetter is quick to give credit where credit is due.
“Lot of people thank me for putting on the holiday display, but I want everyone to know who really deserves the credit,” Vetter said. “Without Ed and Shirley Nolan, Kosta Camden, and Jesse and Gloria Morgan, who pretty well put up the decorations this year, there wouldn’t have been a light show this year.”