A farmhouse just south of Warrensburg, annually decorated during the holidays as a gingerbread house, captivates motorists passing by on the Northway, as well as local residents of all ages.
For 11 months of the year, an aging yellow farmhouse blends into a hillside just a stone’s throw off the Northway a quarter-mile south of the Warrensburg exit.
But from several weeks before Christmas to New Year’s Day, the home is lit up with meticulously arranged multicolored lights, decorated to look like a storybook gingerbread house.
In its holiday garb and standing isolated on a field above state Rte. 9, the house captivates both children and adults passing by on the superhighway.
Billy Norton stepped out of the farmhouse on Dec. 27, and spoke of why for nearly 20 years he’s annually spent a month’s worth of spare time carefully arranging many thousands of lights — and endured a bloated electric bill — for the engaging display, which includes illuminated faux candy canes, stars and angels.
“I just do it for everyone to enjoy, kids especially,” he shrugged. “That’s all it’s about.”
Norton added that because since he’s past 60 years old, each year it gets more difficult to climb the ladder and string the lights up around all the windows and eaves of the two-and-a-half story home.
This past year, Norton’s nephew Ray Monroe has been helping out, holding the ladder, or handing the lights on the areas hard to reach. Monroe noted that Norton spends a month decorating the house, and several weeks putting the decorations away, storing them for the following year.
Monroe and Norton said people have various ways of express their appreciation for Norton’s creativity in lighting.
Norton said Canadian truckers passing by blast their air horns in salute.
Monroe said some people stop by and leave gifts of appreciation.
“People really like it — one lady dropped by on Christmas Eve this year, thanked us for the display and left us a platter of cookies,” Monroe said. “Folks from the county home stop by every year. People pull over at the side of the road so they can just look at the house.”
Norton, a night maintenance worker at the Warren County Municipal Center, added that when he takes down the lights this year on Jan. 2, this might be the last time ever that the his house appears so festive and magical.
“This may be my last year, I don’t know,” he said.