GLENS FALLS — Paul Smith had just finished putting up a digital sign informing the public that, due to his health and rising COVID numbers, his usual Christmas display would not be up this year.
The sign states that he is looking for volunteers to help make the display happen next year.
Ten minutes later he was inside and noticed a car pull up.
A man read the sign, wrote a note and dropped it off on his porch expressing his interest in helping out.
“That’s just phenomenal,” Smith said over the phone. “Literally 10 minutes of having the sign on and someone is already volunteering, so that’s unbelievable.”
Smith was unable to set up the usual Christmas display at his Clayton Avenue home last year due to COVID-19 restrictions and regulations. He was excited to get the ball rolling this year to make up for it.
But he went to the hospital for what he described as a standard procedure. He ended up in the Intensive Care Unit on a ventilator for almost three weeks.
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“It just put me so far behind, and then with the restrictions once I got out, there was just no way I was going to have the time and the ability to get the display up and running,” Smith said.
He also cited the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the region. He said that he doesn’t want to be responsible for a hot spot coming to life.
“It really kills me that I can’t do this, especially two years in a row,” he said.
This year, Smith was excited to show off a new display that was supposed to be a part of the display last year.
Jack Gillette, former owner of the Magic Forest amusement park in Lake George, donated a display that was made in Germany in the 1950s, according to Smith.
When Gillette offered to give it to Smith, he gladly accepted it.
“I literally have been working four years nonstop on this thing and renovating,” Smith said.
The renovating includes fixing whatever needs to be fixed and repainting the structures. Smith hasn’t been doing this alone.
He said he has been working with Starting Point Studio in South Glens Falls to get the display up to snuff.
“They’ve got a painter and a seamstress and all kinds of people over there who’ve been helping me rebuild,” he said. “It’s been a joint effort between them helping me and local businesses getting involved with this too.”
Smith’s neighbor Joy Griffin loves seeing the people who come through to see the display each year.
She has two 9-year-old twin grandchildren from Averill Park who enjoy the displays as well.
Griffin feels that if things had played out the way they have but earlier in the year, the community would have rallied around Smith and helped get the display up this year.
“My heart breaks for him because I know that he enjoys it and he enjoys watching the families come and enjoy the displays that he does,” she said.
Smith said he will have the display up and running next year.
Although he wants to keep specifics about the new addition close to the vest, he can’t wait to have the thousands of people back in his yard pushing buttons and enjoying the synchronized light shows.
He can’t wait to be available for questions about the display, too.
“Everyone wants to know stuff. The kids are always like, ‘how many lights? How tall is that?’” he said. “That’s where I get my satisfaction.”