Hometown Hero: The Thompson family

BULLOCH CO., GA (WTOC) - Deborah Thompson says there is a secret to the largest Christmas light display in Bulloch County.

"My husband says anybody can take a strand of lights, put them on a piece of plywood and make people smile," said Thompson.

But it's hard to imagine anybody doing a better job of it, or with it, than Thompson and her family.

Each year for about a decade now, they have lit up their Statesboro farm with light displays, inflatable characters and music, making it a drive through holiday attraction for the enjoyment of people across Southeast Georgia and for the benefit of those much closer to home.

"There's another side of it,'' Deborah's son, Tyler, said of the family light display," and that's giving and helping out, helping out others who are less fortunate than we are."

The Thompson's do not charge an entrance fee, but they do collect non-perishable food items that they deliver to families in their community and food pantries.

"We helped a family last week that the next day they would have been completely out of food," said Deborah. "It's really turned into a mission, into a ministry for us. The lights are pretty and a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. But it's worth every hour that's put into it."

It takes about 15 weeks to build out the display and the entire family pitches in during the month the lights are up.

"It all started with a couple of lights at the entrance," said Tyler. "And dad started adding this and adding that, then before you know it, people were driving through."

And before long, word about the brightest holiday spirit in Statesboro had gotten around, drawing more than 14,000 cars already this season.

"They come from all over," said Deborah. "We have them from St. Simons, Brunswick, Macon, Augusta and South Carolina."

"We like to drive around every year and look at the Christmas lights," added Diane Hendrix, of Statesboro. "And I've never seen anything like this."

And you won't see a sign of the season shine as brightly as the one provided by these WTOC Hometown Heroes.

"Mom's always said to receive a gift, you have to give a gift," said Tyler. "And that's what I'm trying to teach my kids as well."

"As long as we can pay our power bill, we're not going to charge," added Deborah. "We want it to be a Christmas gift."

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