When Robert James began renting to his friend, Gordon Brandenburg 25 years ago, they never could have imagined how a shared hobby would capture the imagination of Mercer County residents every year at Christmas.
“We started 17 years ago, we enjoyed doing it and we have been doing it ever since,” James said.
Brandenburg and James have electrician training totalling 30 years, each. They both found enjoyment in collecting and restoring Christmas lights and decorations.
“We’ve traveled to Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, everywhere searching for vintage lights,” Brandenburg said.
Searching through eBay and Craigslist have become a daily ritual for Brandenburg. He said his love for decorations started with his father.
“I always decorated for Christmas as a kid, I just never grew out of it,” he said.
When he began decorating with James, he says the goal was never for it to become anything, it was purely for their own enjoyment.
“The past five or six years it has just really taken off,” Brandenburg said. “We’re already planning for next year.”
The display is quite impressive. When traveling down Bondville Road in Salvisa, the streets are illuminated by the stars above alone, until the faint sounds of Christmas music let visitors know they’ve arrived in the right place.
Seemingly out of nowhere, visitors are transported from a one lane road in Salvisa to a Christmas wonderland, with illuminated trees, candy canes, characters, elves, animals, stars, and roped lights vividly cast their glow into the night. Visitors slow down to see how much detail goes into the display.
Brandenburg says he finds the most enjoyment in seeing kids react to the set up.
“I love listening to all the kids point and yell and scream,” he said.
Visiting the lights have always been free of charge to visitors, but this year Brandenburg says they are teaming with Salvisa Baptist Church to offer the ability to donate to those in need. He also says the set up is never complete.
“Santa may be coming to visit in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Visitors are welcome to the Bondville Lights nightly beginning this week through Dec. 31. Santa will appear the three weekends leading to Christmas. The lights are located at 402 and 406 Bondville Road.
To learn more, check out this week’s issue of