Joe and Gwen Burden get into the festive holiday spirit a bit more than most. The Owensboro couple who reside in The Downs subdivision off Highway 54 have been spreading Christmas cheer for years through elaborate light displays used to decorate their home.
Gwen, who credits her grandchildren for being the couple’s inspiration, estimated the grand total of twinkling lights used at their home to be somewhere near 30,000 and counting.
“It was really our grandson who inspired us to keep going, adding more annually,” Burden said. “He would say ‘hey, you got a dark spot over here.’”
The rest is history.
The colorful and festive displays have began expanding and evolving each year. It’s safe to say, no dark spots remain.
This year, the addition of a computer programmed tree adds another level, literally, to the Burden’s roof, complete with music and lights.
“As of right now, we have 23 songs that are choreographed with the lights,” Burden said. “This year we have five new ones, some inspired by our family.”
Since the decorations are so large and there are so many, Joe and Gwen begin decorating in September each year.
“Often our neighbors will pop in and ask when we’re going to get started; they know it’s a process,” Burden said.
The most unique lighted fixtures on the property are the each of the “grandchildren’s trees.”
“Each of our grandchildren have their own tree,” Burden said. “Our oldest grandson has the mega tree, our granddaughter has a pink tree, our youngest grandson has his own blue tree. The newest addition, our great granddaughter, Daisy Bell, has just that, a daisy in our front yard, her own flower tree.”
Seven computer-operated machines keep the lights running, which is not an easy task.
“We’ve worked hard to cover all of our property, the backyard is full now, too,” Burden said. “It’s not out of the ordinary to see folks parked across the road to enjoy the lights.”
Outside of the neighbors who see the lights nightly, there are many who visit The Downs to catch a glimpse of the elaborate lighted winter wonderland annually.
“We keep the lights on nightly from 5 – 10 p.m. with the exception of weekend nights, extending the hours to 12 a.m,” Burden said.
People who are driving may tune into local radio station 88.1 to hear Christmas music while touring the Burden’s property, which makes the experience uniquely festive.
The Burden’s hope to continue sharing their festive joy with others as long as they can. They often notice repeat guests who affectionately Gwen calls “daily onlookers.”
“Often the neighborhood children will come over as soon as they get home from school to enjoy our home,” Burden said. “They are our daily visitors, and they make it worthwhile.”