Bob Schabert, a.k.a. Ebenezer by many, will be sharing the light of Christmas for the last time this year.
“My mind is finely listening to my body,” Bob said. “The older displays are requiring too much time for upkeep and running all the cords. I just can’t do it any longer.”
Bob’s display began 30 years ago when he built his first display, a six foot star. Two years later the display went computerized.
“From that time on, everything in the yard, including trees were programmed,” Bob said. “This is my way of giving a little Christmas spirit for others to enjoy.”
He said that roughly 200 hours each year are spent to light up his yard.
The computerized displays include 167 computerized movements, 5,300 feet of rebar, almost 40,000 lights and nearly four miles of extension cords. Bob has a predetermined sequence of motions written in a computer program that allow six timers to begin the display at 5 p.m. and end the display at 10 p.m. Over 100 extension cords in the garage connect the displays.
“When I had 10 trees with mini lights moving from red, white and blue, the lights in our house would flicker,” Bob said. “No real trees have lights any more. They got too large.”
The newest addition to the display is a 20-foot Christmas tree that requires eight 20 foot bars that display four color lights on each, totaling 7,700 rope lights.
Next is a 13x12 foot bell that contains 2,900 rope lights. The display of Santa waving includes three arms, three bodies and three hats and stands 13 feet high and measures eight feet wide. Santa contains 4,230 rope lights.
A display of swans includes eight swans and 14 heads that stands nine feet tall.
The display also includes Santa with his sleigh, reindeer, bells, a snowman, “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” signs and the six-foot star.
The project, Bob said, originally started as a team effort with his brother, Tom, and son, Russ, doing most of the welding for the first 10 years. In the past 20 years, however, building the frames in the yard for the displays to attach to has become Bob’s responsibility.
Before the holiday season, Bob’s helpers come by his house and help him move the displays from storage and mount them to the frames, taking about three hours in total. When the New Year rings in, all the displays are taken down and placed back in storage.
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All of the displays have been designed and made in Bob’s garage making them one of a kind. Every two or three years he builds a new display.
As his passion grew over the years so did his garage–out of necessity to have a place to store and make more displays.
Although Bob seems remorse at putting the displays in storage he said his yard won’t be left empty next Christmas season.
“I will always have a few displays,” he said. “Just the older and larger displays will be left in storage.”
The display can be viewed at 403 Valley View Drive, Courtland.