Massive Christmas display lights up Pelham Drive for a cause

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Now that Christmas is just around the corner, homeowners are getting into the holiday spirit.

Jody and Matthew Ellenwood lit up their massive lights display for the first time Thursday evening – and with it, bringing a lot of Christmas cheer.

“We tried to do a little bit of everything,” said Matthew. “We got the lights, and then we got the music. But we also like a little bit of a static part of it, where people can walk through and experience it a little bit up close and personal.”

The Ellenwood’s winter wonderland at 721 Pelham Drive is an interactive Christmas tradition going back about 30 years when they first moved on the street. It has grown almost every week since and now contains more than 35,000 light bulbs, plus inflatables, blow molds and static centerpieces.

“It’s kind of like times when you go downtown, and you walk by the department stores and you look in the windows,” Matthew said. “That’s kind of what I want. ”

The Ellenwoods get started on the display in January by mapping out their plan and picking songs to sync their light show to. It’s a process that takes days.

“I have to sit there in front of the computer for hours and hours listening to the same song over and over and over,” said Matthew.

“He added the Grinch song this year because we had a special part in the path,” Jody added. “I’ve been listening to the Grinch song since January.”

This year’s Whoville addition has characters from the movie as well as a recreation of the tree at the center of Whoville. They hope to expand that section next year with more sights from the film. However, that was not the only new thing added to the show. Matthew built a line of light-up trees to go on top of the roof and expanded their nativity scene to include banners.

You can listen from your car on the 97.1 FM station, but they encourage families to get out and take a a trip to holiday central, right down Gingerbread Street, and all the way to Whoville!

“You can hear the kids oo-ing and aw-ing and it just warms your heart with the times that we’re having,” said Jody. “With COVID last year and still COVID, and it’s just nice to hear that laughter.”

The display will be up every night until New Year, however, Fridays and Saturdays with good weather will have a special treat with Santa and Mrs. Claus on-site to greet children until Christmas. On nights Santa is not there, kids can mail a letter to him in the display as well.

“We have saved every letter that every family has written to us and all the kids, we actually have them stacked in our closet,” said Matthew. “We kind of sit back sometimes and look and see who keeps writing and who doesn’t.”

Last year, they received about 180 letters. They are hoping for a similar, if not larger, crowd this year. While the new stop in Whoville is the latest section to draw families out, the Ellenwoods are hoping their free experience will inspire generosity in their visitors as they collect donations for Shepherd’s House.

They are collecting items for the second year as a way to honor the veterans in their lives. They are asking for visitors to bring fast-food gift cards of $5-10, which can be left in a red mailbox by their front door, or an item to donate.

Shepherd’s House is in need of:

  • Twin bedsheets set
  • Pillows
  • Shorts (sizes XL-2XL)
  • Sweatpants (sizes XL-2XL)
  • Boxer Briefs
  • Ski-style gloves
  • Slippers (sizes 10-12)
  • Mesh laundry bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Windex
  • Dawn dish soap

Donations should be placed in the box at the end of the driveway.

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