Before Christmas music is even being played on the radio, Wayne Riley, of Southwest Roanoke County is inside and outside of his home setting up thousands (three to five thousand, he says) of holiday lights. That’s right, if you’ve driven down Green Meadows Road, you’ve probably seen him hard at work.
Riley, who has lived in the Roanoke area all his life, begins his journey at the end of September and doesn’t complete the outside for about two weeks. This year he finished the outside in mid-October and finished inside around Halloween.
“It’s a process to get everything done,” he said. “It can take anywhere from two to three weeks, to a month just getting things ready inside and out.”
And he’s not completely satisfied until the gingerbread house goes in (the last piece to be installed), which also happens to take several people just to build.
Seeing the visual work is the easy part, but the hard part is realizing just how much work goes into his hobby. Riley said that he starts checking all of his lights as early as spring, just to make sure they work. And of course, if they don’t they have to be replaced. But Riley never gets discouraged.
“I don’t let it get to me,” Riley said. “I get out there and I start early. I make a lot of trips to the Home Depot.”
When Riley and his wife, Karen, first moved into their house about 9 years ago, Riley was able to start his dream of decorating for the holidays.
“I had always wanted to decorate outside. Mom and dad growing up, always decorated in and out. It’s something I wanted to start doing and it’s grown over the years. I enjoy watching the cars come by to take photos and see the lights. I enjoy the people coming to see and the neighbors walk by.”
“I started with just a few things,” he said. “And each year I add something new. This year I added more to it. I added four LED animated cars of a train.”
And as his decorations grew, he also had to get four more electrical outlets installed and he’s been doing it for so long that most of his pieces are rare and can no longer be bought. His outdoor decorations also include a three piece nativity set with angels, the gingerbread house, candy canes that light up, carolers, a helicopter, toy soldier, and even decorated Christmas trees.
Inside of his home, Riley has a collection of Christmas Trees, on upstairs and one downstairs, as well as a lighted tree in the shape of a cross, a fiber-optic angel which is about three feet tall, nativity scenes, and villages of every make and model, style and collection.
Riley buys almost all of his decorations off the internet from Christmas Done Bright in Springfield, Tenn.
If you haven’t gotten out to view any Christmas lights yet, now is your chance. Riley welcomes everyone to drive by and see his handy work. His lights are lit from about 5:30 to 9 p.m. seven nights a week (weather permitting). Riley says he will leave them up until New Years. He lives at 5631 Green Meadows Road (Castle Rock area).
Of course, if you miss them this year, don’t fret. Riley says, “As long as I’m physically able, I’m going to keep on doing.”