You can enjoy a dazzling show of Christmas lights at 9594 State Route 19, just ½-mile north of State Route 288 in North Bloomfield Township. Local residents have watched the season’s light display there by Linda Rinehart and Jim Shank for more than 30 years.
Kim Bood, who lives at Candlewood Lake, says her family looks forward to driving by the front yard display by Shank’s Auto Service every year since her children were little.
“There is always something new in their yard,” said Bood. “My kids get really excited to see what they have added every year. They also have a Halloween and Easter display, but it’s the Christmas lights that are the really big display.”
Rinehart said that she first began decorating at her mom, Helen Rinehart’s home on State Route 61 near Saint James. When they began having displays at their home, one of the first scenes they did was the train. That was in 1983.
“Jim and I make all the animated scenes,” said Rinehart. “Many of them are made with auto parts since Jim has the auto repair business.”
Each scene in the display has a story. The twirling bear is made with a wringer washer and strings of lights. An exercise bike moves the Jack-in-the-box, while the skiers on the ski slope are on a moving grain elevator. Shank reversed the way the motor runs to flip the skiers around to go down the hill.
Shank puts his mechanical skills to work in making parts while Rinehart does some of the welding. They begin putting the display together on two weekends in October with help from family. It takes about four days to set up, but they said it comes down much quicker, especially when it’s cold. It takes two garages to store everything.
Rinehart and Shank are glad to know their work is appreciated. They even had someone pay for their dinner at a local restaurant this fall when people learned they were “the folks on State Route 61 with the lights.”
“We get lots of cards thanking us for the lights,” said Rinehart.
One special letter was from a truck driver from Indiana who drives by frequently. He even brought his family to see the lights.
Rinehart said it’s fine for people to drive through the lighted arches in the driveway and then turn around in front of the garage. Lights are on from dusk to midnight until the first of January.