Step into the Clarks’ yard and you are transported into a Christmas wonderland. Walk into their home and you get even deeper into Christmas.
Each year the couple decorates inside and outside for the holidays, going further than most people would ordinarily go.
Joanne and Floyd Clark begin the process of turning their home into a holiday scene the second week of October.
Everywhere you look in their home you’ll see something Christmas related.
Like the wall of shelves in one corner of the den that hold several Coca Cola village pieces, complete with figurines, benches, trees and more.
“I started collecting Coca Cola villages in 1996,” Joanne said. “At the time, we were big into collecting them. Several stores carried them, but I had to get some on eBay because they were discontinued or collector only pieces.
“One of my most favorites is the Rock City building. I remember going there when I was a kid. It’s actually in Tennessee. At the time, we lived in New Jersey, and I remember a vacation to Rock City and seeing the sign. When I saw that piece, I had to have it.”
Joanne said every time she looks at it, it brings back memories of being a child and going on vacation with her family.
She has a total of 72 Coca Cola pieces, some on the shelves in the den and the rest in her living room on shelves, including another favorite — Jacob’s Pharmacy.
“I bought it online,” Joanne said. “The main reason I wanted it is because our youngest son is named Jacob. But then I found out it’s also special because Coca Cola started in the pharmacy in Atlanta, Ga.”
The Coca Cola villages in the living room sit on shelves laid across an old ladder, surrounded at the bottom by a variety of stuffed animals.
In the center of the the den is an 8-foot tall Christmas tree containing some Hallmark ornaments, along with ones that her children made when they were little. Because they are grown now, looking at her children’s ornaments brings memories flooding back.
On another wall on a small table sit several ceramic holiday pieces that Joanne made. There’s a penguin, a Santa hat and even Santa’s workshop. She made the workshop in the early 1980s. It shows Santa sitting on a stuffed chair with his feet propped up on an ottoman, looking through his naughty-and-nice list. Mrs. Santa carries a plate of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies.
Also in the living room are two big curio cabinets, one filled with more than 100 Santas and another with about 100 snowmen, including some that Joanne made.
It’s even Christmas in the kitchen. On the white cabinets are red and silver sparkling stick-on ornaments.
“I bought my first set when we were in Newfoundland on vacation,” Joanne said. “I like them so much, but couldn’t find them in stores anywhere, so I had to go on eBay.”
On one of the kitchen walls is a handmade Christmas tree with a collection of Frosty Friends ornaments that Joanne has been collecting since 1980.
“We made a Christmas tree shape out of eight boards stained light green,” she said. “When we laid our wood floor down, I took a piece of board for the trunk.”
There’s also a big nativity set that Joanne made in 1981 when her boys were little.
“When I was making it, we lived in upstate New York and burned wood for heat,” she said. “So we would keep a humidifier going constantly. I would sit there in the dining room working on my nativity pieces. I went downstairs to change a load of laundry and came back and one of my three camels was missing. I knew I had all three camels working on them, and wondered where in the heck did it go.”
When Joanne asked her boys if they had seen it, they said no. About two weeks later, she was cleaning out the humidifier and in the bottom was a thin layer of clay.
“Then I realized that one of the boys had taken it and put it in the humidifier,” she said. “I don’t know what they were hoping it would do.”
Joanne said Christmas has always been a big production at her home.
“When I met my husband, he was just as much into Christmas as I was,” she said. “When the children were younger, we would decorate the whole house and change out plates, glasses, cups, bedding, linens, towels and even the shower curtain. Just because we liked Christmas.”
She still decks out her bathroom for Christmas with a holiday shower curtain, holiday rug, holiday wall hangings and even green, red and silver garlands outlining the door.
Outside is just as magical at the Clark home.
One unusual item you’ll see is Santa riding on a rocket across the yard.
“My dad and grandfather made it out of tin in 1957 when we lived in New Jersey,” Joanne said. “We don’t touch up the paint on it because we want to keep the originality of it.”
Next to Santa on his rocket is a candyland with huge gingerbread men and gigantic lollipops made out of PCV pipe and pool noodles.
In another part of the yard is a white wooden nativity set that Floyd made. On the porch stand two white deer, one with an old injury.
“We put them up at Christmas time when we were in New York,” Joanne said. “One time my husband saw a rat run through the yard and went out with a shotgun. He shot the bottom leg off one of the wooden reindeer.”
Under a big magnolia tree stand polar bears that light up. The flagpole in the yard transforms into a Christmas tree during the holidays. There are also some snowmen blowups.
Another special decoration is Santa with his reindeer.
“My grandfather made those in the mid 1950s,” Joanne said. “He made a lot of decorations. He made Santa out of pressed board and the reindeer and sleigh out of tin. That’s very dear to my heart. My grandfather passed away in 1980.”
In front of the garage is a building that the Clarks made last year. Each year they dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus and sit outside. Before the building, they were exposed to the elements. Now they have a comfortable place to be in, complete with two comfortable chairs, a fireplace and a Christmas tree.
Each Friday and Saturday nights, they sit outside in the building and people driving by will stop to let their child talk to Santa and Mrs. Claus and have a picture taken with the couple. The couple gives out candy canes.
“We do it just for the enjoyment of watching the children’s faces,” Joanne said. “And we do it for the enjoyment of everybody who stops by.”