Holiday decorations delight village residents year after year

ARKPORT — Turning the corner from Main Street onto Oak Hill Street in Arkport is a breathtaking experience this Christmas season.

A sparkling display of holiday lights and decorations at the home of Ron and Dena Kennell is drawing gasps and admiration once again.

Reindeer, an angel and icicle lights illuminated by white bulbs set the scene. Trees and wreaths add bits of greenery and color, giving the cozy house the glow of Santa’s workshop at the North Pole.

Ron Kennell began decorating for the holidays when he bought the house in 1980. Since the couple married in 2004, the decorations have grown.

“I started it years ago, but she expanded it,” Ron Kennell said.

The Kennells add “three or four pieces” every year. A waving snowman, Santa’s mailbox and a lamp post joined the candy canes and gumdrop trees this year.

Many of the items come from Big Lots stores. Others are homemade, like the miniature trees that line the walk to the house.

“I made them out of tomato stakes; just turned them upside down and made trees out of them,” Dena Kennell said.

They made a striped North Pole out of a giant cardboard tube.

“Actually there was a carpet rolled up on that. It’s a big long tube that a carpet came on, so I got a big ball ornament for the top.”

The display lacks trendy items like inflatable figures and projection lights.

“I like angels and deer. It just depends on what I see. I like it to have more of an elegant look, not a tacky look. I hope that’s the way people see it,” Dena said.

Setting up the display takes about two weeks. The Kennells throw the switch for the lights on Thanksgiving night and keep the display up until New Year’s Day. While budget billing keeps their electric bill affordable, the light show takes some effort both electrically and physically.

“We’ve had two special switches in my (electrical) box out here that does just the lights. We started having it so you could throw on the front switch, but if you made a pot of coffee, you’d blow a fuse, so now we’re on two circuits,” Ron said.

He eliminated blown fuses, but other risks remain.

“I’m 77 years old. I’ve got one spot that I have to get on the roof, and she doesn’t want me to do it, but I do it. I get up there, and I lay on my side, and I reach over onto my side.”

Despite the challenges, the Kennells say they have a hard time saying no to bringing back their Arkport tradition every year. Trick-or-treaters and their parents ask each year if the Christmas decorations will be back.

“Every year I say I’m getting older and I just can’t do it,” Ron, who is a Hornellsville town council member, said. “Then you go down to the post office and have some of the people that you’ve known for years ask, ‘When you going to start putting your Christmas stuff up?’ Well, what are you going to do?”