SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Speedway, Indiana is one of the most popular racing destinations in the United States. But did you know it’s also a very popular destination to look at holiday lights?
And no, I’m not talking about the new Lights at the Brickyard attraction.
Long before that idea was ever conceived, a local family created their own grandiose Christmas lights display that’s attracted people to Speedway for the past two decades.
The winner of our 2016 Holiday Lights Display contest is the Bates family. For the past 20 years, every single inch of their home located at the corner of West 22nd Street and Fisher Avenue has been covered in lights for the holidays.
Dave Bates, the patriarch of the family, is the mastermind behind the creation. Unfortunately, Dave was busy at work and wasn’t able to speak with FOX59 when we stopped by their house, but his wife Julie Bates, daughter Cory Smith who just got married, and Cory’s new husband Alex Smith were able to fill us in on the details
Cory says her dad started decorating their house to make her and her brother happy.
"My brother and I grew up in this house, and I think he just wanted to start a really cool family tradition. So my brother started helping him when he was 6, and it has just been growing from there,” said Cory.
The current light display has very much evolved since the first year.
"The first year we had the roof lights and Frosty on the roof as well. And we had a couple of lawn ornaments and wrapped the posts on the deck but nothing like this. Year after year, my dad will find more ornaments and lights and then he just kind of accumulates them and puts out which ones he likes the best,” Cory said.
When Alex started dating Cory, he didn’t know about her family’s holiday lights tradition. Needless to say, he was rather shocked when he first saw the house lit up in all its glory.
But he has since embraced it, and now he’s even helping Dave carry on the family tradition. This year for the first time, he helped put up the lights since Dave’s son is away at med school.
"I had a really good time putting them up this year. It's a bonding moment with my father-in-law,” Alex said.
As you can imagine, the decorating process is very time consuming. Dave works on it every evening for two weeks and also two straight weekends in November.
Julie says each year Dave questions whether he’ll actually put up the lights, but he’s motivated by the positive response from friends and strangers.
“Every year my husband questions whether he's going to put them up. He always questions himself. But he got a 'Thank You' note in the mail one year from a family in Utah that had come to town and brought their twin boys by to see the lights and they sent a 'Thank You' note saying how much they enjoyed the display. And you know, everyone knows about it and they drive by, so he thinks he has to keep doing it,” Julie said.
Cory is very grateful that her father continues to work so hard each year to spread Christmas cheer.
"Saturday nights it gets pretty full in front of the house. There are a lot of cars that come and go--even through the week now there are a lot of cars that drive by. Families will get out and take pictures. People get family photos. Everybody seems to enjoy the lights and people that we know and don't know love them. It's something that everyone can look forward to,” Cory said.