One extra strand of Christmas lights strung on a boathouse six years ago started it all.
“I never would have dreamed in a million years that it would be like this,” said Dewey Forrester, unintentional instigator of the Turtle Cove Christmas Light War.
Hanging that extra strand of lights prompted a neighbor to do the same. That neighbor also added a Christmas tree to his dock, so naturally Forrester had to answer the challenge.
“We kind of made eye contact and realized that something was about to happen,” said Forrester.
And so Clint and Tina Hall entered into an unofficial festive competition with Dewey and his wife Kay to see who could light up their Lake Sinclair home so bright that it could guide three wise men.
“It was game on,” Forrester said. “It just grew a little bit bigger and bigger between the two houses.”
One year in a cable system was rigged about 40 feet in the air between the two properties, giving their respective displays an added dimension.
But there was still something missing. Another year later, the friendly competitors “politely egged on,” as Forrester put it, fellow Turtle Cove resident Ted Smith to enter the fray.
“He got into the game in a fairly big way,” said Forrester.
The word “big” was used in the most literal sense as Ted and his wife Joni incorporated a 30-foot tall Santa Claus into their display right off the bat. The massive Santa is still there, and is now accompanied by a programmed music-and-light show sure to bring wonder to viewers’ eyes.
With the growth of the now three-home holiday presentation has come added notoriety. Word travels fast when it comes to astounding Christmas lights. Forrester estimated that between 60 and 70 boats cruised through Thanksgiving night to enjoy the decorations.
The entire thing is best viewed from the water, and Turtle Cove is easy enough to locate for anyone wanting to take a look themselves. All you have to do is look to the right of Sinclair Dam at 6 p.m. or later and you’ll see what three weeks of work can produce. The water in the cove is deep enough to accommodate boaters, Forrester just asks that everyone follow the flow of any existing traffic so there aren’t any accidents. He added that you can see portions of the display from P.A. Johns Road, but lakeside viewing is best in order to get the full effect. All three homes have their lights up now through about the end of the year.
“It means a lot for all of us — the Smiths, the Forresters and the Halls,” Forrester said on having people come see the Christmas lights. “When we hear the kids screaming for joy out on the boats when the lights come on, that’s enough reason for us to do it right there.”