Bay Village light display takes inspiration to new level

The elaborate lighting display at John Underation’s Maple Drive home began with the gift of Christmas lights that belonged to his friend, Randy Stang. Photo by Denny Wendell

At 6 p.m. on Nov. 29, John Underation turned on the lights of a breathtaking Christmas display at 30629 Maple Drive in Bay Village for its fifth season. Underation began his Christmas decoration obsession when he was offered well-known Bay Village activist Randy Stang’s extensive collection of Christmas lights by Stang’s wife, Jacqueline, the summer after Stang’s untimely death in February 2010.

Underation did not always decorate his house for Christmas. He grew up in Barberton, Ohio, and his family did not decorate. But there was a house in nearby Norton that decorated extravagantly, and had a flying Santa Claus. Underation would visit the house at Christmastime as a child and wanted to have a house like that when he grew up. When he moved to Cleveland with his wife, Kelley, in 2001, Underation decorated discretely with white twinkle lights.

The gift of Stang’s light collection inspired Underation to higher levels of achievement. In 2014, a minivan with two teenagers pulled up to his house and presented Underation with their award for Best Christmas Lights in Bay Village. 

Each year Underation’s Christmas display has gotten more elaborate. He has taken advice on light placement and improvements from friends, neighbors and his children. He decided he needed a flying Santa Claus, and found one at Home Depot. He found additional reindeer on eBay. Underation added an arrow pointing toward the chimney when his younger son asked how Santa knew to get into the house to leave presents.

Underation begins preparing his display a week before Thanksgiving, checking out the bulbs and making sure everything works. High winds last year damaged reindeer, requiring repairs and modifications to their harnesses. This year, Christmas music has been added to the display. 

Make a visit to Maple Drive part of your Christmas tradition.

susan murnane

historian, legal historian, former tax lawyer, author of Bankruptcy in an Industrial Society: The History of the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Akron University Press, 2014)

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Volume 7, Issue 23, Posted 11:00 AM, 12.01.2015