LACEY – Resident Bill Sheppard was honored for being “Mr. Christmas” in town, having a history of organizing the Christmas parade and decorating his house so much that it had become a destination spot.
In 1977, Sheppard first decorated his property with two hand-made wooden characters, according to a proclamation from the Township Committee. The population of characters would eventually grow to more than 100.
Each year, he would add more, often taking requests from children. His “House of Lights” consisted of thousands of lights adorning his Bay Way property in Lanoka Harbor.
He also chaired the Christmas parade for a number of years.
The family had announced last year that the decorations were going up for the 39th and last time. Residents were upset at this end of an era.
Sheppard had suffered a stroke, and would not be able to continue putting on the production which included walkthroughs and visits from Santa Claus.
During the meeting when Sheppard was honored, he was given a standing ovation. The committee members and public were given a chance to say a few words about him.
Committeeman Steven Kennis said it’s a ritual for his family to drive around and look at people’s lights. “Your house is the first one we hit.”
Mayor Peter Curatolo said “It’s the first thing my little girl looks forward to at Christmas.”
Resident Ed Scanlon added that when Lacey Day had fallen on hard times in the 1980s, “He worked hard to regrow it and keep it a family thing.”