make it happen
The lights are on!
There are no words to describe
it, Joe Day said of the love and appreciation the community
poured out as they worked together to get his massive Christmas
light display set up this weekend at his Versailles home.
Day, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, and has been undergoing
chemotherapy, was not able to put together his display located
at the Intersection of US 421 and US 50 that has become a family
tradition for thousands of people for the past 32 years.
After an article appeared in the Osgood Journal the week of Thanksgiving,
Bill McDonald of Osgood did what many people had thought about.
He called Day and asked permission to organize a volunteer group
to set out the many wooden houses, complete with figures, string
lights from massive evergreens and set gigantic lighted letters
spelling out Merry Christmas.
The darkness surrounding Days home was more oppressive than
the cancer he is fighting, so he agreed to McDonalds proposal.
Thats when McDonald pulled in every resource asking for
volunteers. They came and kept coming.
The spirit of Christmas was alive and well in Ripley County as
nearly 100 people signed up to work on Friday and Saturday. Some
people came both days, such as Jimmy Hyatt of Friendship, who
worked 11 hours on Friday and was back on the job Saturday morning.
Community leaders, organizations, agencies and individuals came
together and either volunteered their time or donated to the cause.
Some did both.
What takes Day months to set in place each year only took this
group a few days. It is just incredible, Day told
the Osgood Journal. At dusk Saturday evening, December 12, the
dream McDonald had to have the place glowing became a reality.
Cincinnati television crews rolled onto the scene to cover the
heartwarming story of the generosity of the people of Ripley County.
Not only was the light display in place, but extra touches had
been added. A giant greeting card was made and signed by all the
volunteers. This was presented to Day, who was just overwhelmed.
This is all unreal- unbelievable, Day told the Osgood
Journal. Its so amazing - I just want to thank everyone.
Sunday a new group of volunteers came. A community choir was put
into place as the group caroled for cancer under the
direction of Days son, Darrell. Banners from the American
Cancer Society were hung - poignant reminders of the reason so
many people converged on the scene in the first place.
The beautiful music of the carolers roused Day from his post inside
his home. Im going out on the deck, he told
his wife Peggy.
As Day made his way onto the deck overlooking the Christmas display,
he waved to those below - who cheered his appearance.
True to his stamina to fight the cancer that is ravaging his body,
Day stood the entire time listening to the carolers.
Its like a living Christmas card, Darrell noted
as people opened up their talents to bring joy to his father,
who has given so much through his efforts to share the spirit
of Christmas by putting up the large display year after year.
Day, one of eight siblings, was flanked by family - brothers,
sisters, children, Darrell of Indianapolis, Dennis of Lebanon,
and Sandy Howard of Versailles, and numerous other family members
as well as a host of friends.
BJ Myers usually clear voice broke as she sang Have
Yourself a Merry Little Christmas when some of the words
heard were friends who are dear to us and all
our troubles will be out of sight.
Days brother, Dale, who has been in ministry for over 50
years said they are a close family who rely on the promises of
the Lord to get through tough times such as these. His daughters
- Debra Stephen, Dawna Mathews, Dana Vest and Danita Rogers, were
among those singing special music.
Dale said, Its been amazing to see the turnout of
people who came from all walks of life come out to help with this.
He said We look to the scripture I can do all things
through Christ who strengthens me when dealing with
the various sicknesses his family has and is dealing with.
McDonald, who got the ball rolling, stayed right to the end. His
wife of 35 years said, Its a side of him Ive
It wasnt her husbands generosity or goodwill that
astounded her, it was the depths of feeling he related as people
began to show the true spirit of Christmas. Hes never
been so public, Toni noted as her husband orchestrated the
monumental task without hesitation.
Comments throughout the event included, I count it an honor
to help, said Johnnie Lohrum of Osgood. His son, Micah,
who was a much needed electrician, also expressed his gratitude
to help out a fellow electrician. Day is a retired
Others sent comments to the newspaper saying how thankful they
were for the display being erected and were thankful for such
a generous community. The effort has been and will be long talked
about for years to come because one man stepped up.
McDonald was hesitant to take credit for the weekend that brought
much joy to Joe Day and so many more. But, at the very end on
Sunday as the choir sang, Here Comes Santa Claus the
bearded guy in a red suit came down Days driveway (must
have slid down the outside of the chimney) in person. He knows
who did what and McDonald deserves a full stocking for his unselfish
If the disease of cancer could be stamped out by kindness, Ripley
County would have won the award for eradicating this deadly diagnosis
Plans are to have the display lit every night until the end of