Extol December 2019 - January 2020 | Page 29

Ho, Ho, Home for the Holidays New Albany’s Bobby Owens lights up the night with love BY LAURA ROSS | PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN WATSON He’s been called the Clark Griswold of New Albany more than once. Bobby Owens doesn’t mind the reference to the beloved character from the film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation one bit. “I’ve been a Christmas nut since I was a little boy,” he laughed, “I can’t get enough of it.” Owens, 64, decorates his New Albany home with more than 60,000 Christmas lights each year. And, inflatable characters. And, trains. And, animated characters. And, so much more. Owens began his decorating journey 30 years ago on a much smaller scale, but the holiday spirit took hold and each year, his collection of Christmas décor grew. His mother loved Christmas and Owens told her, “‘One day I’ll decorate like you did, but will do even more,’” he said. “When I bought my first house, I started with a few strings of lights on the bushes and windows, but then I sold that house and got married, and it started getting bigger every year.” Today, his house wows neighbors and draws crowds of holiday spectators from near and far. Owens begins plotting his holiday magic in September. He makes a list and checks it more than twice, testing lights, replacing bulbs and making strategic piles of decorations in preparation for placing them in the yard and his large garage. Working alone most of the time, he starts placing things the second week of October and climbs on the roof to add the lights while the weather is still relatively pleasant. The switch is flipped Thanksgiving weekend, and the house glows until just after New Year. Owens, who has worked at Koetter Woodworking in Starlight for 27 years, loves to craft wood into EXTOL : DECEMBER 2019/JANUARY 2020 27