THE STORY BEHIND LIGHTS OF JOY IN KENNESAW

Amber Roland tells the story behind the growth of Lights of Joy in Kennesaw.  This display is FREE and open to the public every evening through January 3rd.  A trombone concert will be held on Friday and Saturday, December 18 and 19.

Lights of Joy illuminates Kennesaw 

By Amber Roland, North Cobb High School Journalist

Georgia’s largest residential Christmas light display lives in the hearts of Kennesaw on Ben King road across the street from the Influencers Church. Since 1988,  Lights of Joy’s extravagant light show brings overwhelming amounts of holiday excitement to Kennesaw’s community each year. Lights of Joy’s road front exhibit stretches across 700 feet. With over 750,000 lights, 226 trees, and 60 holly bushes shaped like Christmas trees, Lights of Joy illuminates Ben King road.

Richard and Sherrie Taylor act as the masterminds behind Lights of Joy. The couple opens their gates welcoming thousands of people to fully experience Lights of Joy every year. Mr. Taylor takes care of installation needs, and Mrs. Taylor specializes in light repairs. In 2020 alone, she meticulously repaired 500 strands of lights. Their immersive light display includes an interactive radio station where featured holiday music perfectly syncs to the impressive light presentation. The extraordinary light spectacular surrounds an inside circle where Kennesaw’s patrons can walk around with friends, family, and significant others to personally experience the joy created by the Taylors’ hard work.

“The more we saw people come and enjoy our display, the more we are motivated to make it bigger and better each year.  Many people take a mission trip each year to a foreign country and reach perhaps a couple of dozen people.  Our mission is in our front yard. We reached in excess of 21,000 people who walked around our circle in 2019,” Mr. Taylor said.

Richard’s late mother, Marjorie Hixon, inspired the name “Lights of Joy”. From a young age, Hixon represented the epitome of joy, she quickly coined the nickname “My Joy” from her brother Brook. Over the years, Hixon dropped the “My” and became known as Joy. She lived a long life of servitude bringing joy to everyone she encountered. The Taylors decided to honor her legacy and dedicate their beloved light display to Joy Hixon.

After taking in all 750,000 lights, visitors tend to form the common misconception that the Taylors’ electrical bill reaches astronomical heights. In reality, Lights of Joy’s electrical bill constitutes merely 4% of their total cost, one of the production’s smallest components. Behind the scenes, Lights of joy consists of 750 extension cords, 46 circuits of 20 amps each, and approximately 2,000 hours of labor and preparation. All of these factors, juxtaposed with precise planning allows Lights of Joy to run smoothly from November 29th to January 3rd.

Worldwide, 2020 took people on an emotional roller coaster. It often seemed impossible to mask the darkness caused by this unprecedented year. Not even the Taylors could escape 2020’s wrath. Just weeks before opening their light display to the public, Hurricane Zeta created problems for Lights of Joy. Two pine trees came crashing down, snapping wires and creating faulty light bulbs on the way. The Taylors refused to let Hurricane Zeta dampen their spirits. They quickly started clean up efforts, and after 90 man-hours of work, Lights of Joy quickly started to resemble its previous glory once again. Georgia’s residents faced intense trials and tribulations of their own this year after coping with the extremities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgians have been stretched thin and need holiday spirit more than ever. Lights of Joy provides people with the perfect opportunity to safely embrace the holiday spirit.

Lights of Joy continually adapts from year to year. This year, the Taylors clocked 2,000 hours of labor after beginning preparations on July 24th. They decided to add the ‘Tunnel of Joy’ to this year’s extravaganza. The picturesque tunnel creates the perfect photo opportunity for visitors to snap holiday selfies for Instagram, or family photos for Christmas cards. This season, the Taylors also invited talented musicians to become a part of the Lights of Joy Family, they will host a live trombone concert on December 18th and 19th at 7:30 pm.

Each year, Lights of Joy attracts visitors from across the globe. Annually they receive many visitors from Canada and northern states as they pass through Georgia on their way to their Florida winter homes. Last year, ABC’s Great Christmas Light Fight featured Lights of Joy, bringing their holiday light spectacular to a national audience.

“It is very rewarding for us to see people happy.  ‘We hope to bring a little joy to everyone we meet’. This is our mission statement, everyone is happy and joyful when they visit our display.  They can forget about their problems, even if just for 10 to 20 minutes,” Mr. Taylor said.