Flooding destroys decorations for massive Kalamazoo Christmas display on Long Road
KALAMAZOO, Mich. —
A Kalamazoo holiday tradition is coming to an end after nearly three decades.
Ronald and Ruth Wiser’s Christmas display has become a destination for families across West Michigan, but the couple is pulling the plug this year after their decorations were destroyed by flooding while in storage
The February flooding in Kalamazoo destroyed tens of thousands of dollars worth of Christmas decorations that the Wiser's say would be just impossible to replace.
Ruth Wiser said, “We just started out with one or two things. Three or four. It just kept growing, we just kept buying and buying and it got a life of its own.”
Before they knew it families flocked to their home and the cars wrapped around the block to get a glimpse at the impressive Christmas display.
Ronald said, “It was a lot of fun, we enjoyed it. We enjoyed the crowds that came out every night. Talked to people. Neighbors seemed to enjoy it.”
Every year the couple decorated their Long Road home with thousands of Christmas lights, hundreds of life-sized inflatables and Christmas toys.
Ronald said, “We flew over coming home from somewhere one year and we could see it.”
During the rest of the year, the items were kept inside a storage facility on Crosstown Parkway.
Ronald said, “It was a mess, everything was tipped over. “
The Wiser's said major flooding in February ruined everything.
Ruth said, “A lot of it was electronics got damp and got ruined.”
“Almost every week we go over there and we still are hauling stuff out that we find.” Ronald said, “We filled two monster dumpsters up with Christmas toys.”
The news came as a surprise to Kalamazoo residents like Kathy Nobel.
We'll miss it a lot. It's part of the Christmas heritage here in Kalamazoo.” Nobel said.
But despite the setback, the Wiser's are looking back fondly and are thankful for several Western Michigan University students the couple hired every year to bring their display to life.
“They started first week of October. Seven days a week, be anywhere from two to six working per day. Right up until the first day of December when we turn the lights on.” Ronald said, “A lot of these college kids became family after many years. It was really endearing.”
The Wiser's said the flooding won't dampen their Christmas spirit. They still plan on decorating, but it just won't be the grand spectacle of recent fame.