METTER, GA-- It has become a fashionable complaint that Christmas has gotten too big, overblown in both scope and price.
You just won't hear it in Metter, where the city continues to look for ways to grow a season during which it stands out, from the addition of a holiday parade this year to the 15th annual lighting of the Guido Gardens and all the way up what locals say is the biggest community tree they've ever had.
And that's turning Metter from a small town off the interstate into a big Christmas attraction.
"We average about 40,000 people every December,'' says Dr. Michael Guido, who owns the Guido Gardens. "We have many times eight, 10 big greyhound buses every night.''
The first stop for most of those visitors is the Guido Gardens display that Guido, a local evangelist, presents free to the public every year at his ministry, a symbol of Christmas in Metter that like the city started out small and just keeps growing.
"We decided to have something that would attract the children and their parents to the Lord,'' says Guido. "So we started buying up lights. And we wound up buying more than a million lights.''
And before long, Metter was not just an exit but a Christmas destination.