Volunteers needed to light up Versailles tradition
Help bring joy to Joe

Wanda English Burnett

With a little, or in this case a lot, of help from the community, plans are to light up the Joe Day residence this weekend.

First reports in the Osgood Journal before Thanksgiving indicated that due to Day’s diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, he would not be having his spectacular light display the community has grown accustomed to for the past 32 years in Versailles. He told the Osgood Journal he just wasn’t able to do it.

The property, known as the Wye, is located at US 421 and US 50 and has drawn thousands to its display of handmade houses, characters, the manger scene, a giant bell and much more including thousands of twinkling lights.

Bill McDonald told the Osgood Journal, he read the article in the newspaper with a heavy heart. First, after having a lump removed from his lung, he went through a time where he wasn’t certain of the future for himself. “I know somewhat what Joe is going through” he noted. Secondly, he felt that Joe might be saddened by the darkness surrounding his house - after having thousands of lights for so many years.

“I called a few friends, and then called Joe,” he noted. What began as an idea by McDonald, began to grow as people heard about his effort. He contacted Superior Court Judge James Morris, who “jumped on board,” according to McDonald. He also contacted Sheriff Tom Grills, who was also another supporter of the idea.
Now the entire community is being asked to become a part of this massive effort to decorate the Day residence this weekend.

“We’ll start on Friday, but the big day is Saturday,” (December 12) McDonald told the Osgood Journal. He said they need several teams to help erect the many little wooden houses and get everything in place. The effort usually takes Day months to assemble and get ready. One man, many months, several people, one Saturday, might be the motto as McDonald calls for those who have enjoyed the display to come together.
Being the Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus, McDonald said their motto is to “be the difference that makes a difference.” He said he decided to practice what he preaches and be the difference for Joe and the community.

After visiting with Day, McDonald has long-term goals for the Christmas display. He said that Day has expressed interest in getting someone to take over the display, but it seems massive for just one group. McDonald’s proposal is for several organizations to come together under one umbrella to unite for this cause.

But, in the meantime many volunteers are needed to be at the Day residence at US 421 and US 50 on Saturday at 8 a.m. If you need childcare, St. John’s Catholic Church in Osgood is providing that service.
“Let’s light up the Wye and bring some joy to Joe,” McDonald encourages everyone. He says this is a small thing to do for someone who has solely provided so much light for others for so long. “This is a way for everyone who has enjoyed the display over the years to say ‘thank you’,” McDonald concluded.

To organize the teams McDonald needs volunteers to contact him at 812-689-6699 or his wife, Toni at 812-621-1344.

On Sunday, another group, under the leadership of Doug Rump, is planning a choral effort to bring the sounds of the season to the Day home. Under the direction of Day’s son, Darrell, a community choir can be heard on December 13 from 2-4 p.m. as they “carol for cancer.”

According to Rump, the choir from the St. Paul Lutheran Church, Olean, invite area church choirs and individuals to come together to sing at the Day home at Versailles. “This is a way for the community to give back to Joe for his unselfish act of kindness in providing the light display for so long,” Rump told the Osgood Journal. Those wishing to donate to the cancer society may do so at the event.