November 28, 2012

Misty Watson: Oohing at Christmas lights

Misty Watson

— I miss Flood Town.

Some of you are saying “Me, too.” I know you are because going through Flood Town was a Christmas tradition for your family, too.

Some of you are saying “Not me. There was too much traffic and why drive all the way to Murray County to see a tractor with Christmas lights on it?” And to you, I say “Scrooge! Where else are you going to see a tractor with Christmas lights on it?”

And some of you are saying, “What are you talking about?”

Let me explain, just in case you’re not a native of the area. The residents of Flood Town Road in Eton decorated their neighborhood with Christmas lights. We’re not talking a couple of displays in each yard. We’re talking just about everything was blanketed in Christmas lights, including tractors, satellite dishes (and this was back in the day that satellite dishes were huge and sat in the yard), and on some nights, a Santa stood by the road handing out candy canes to children smiling out their car windows. Strands of lights were connected for miles. There was no break from one neighbor’s yard to the next. It was like Santa’s house exploded over this country road.

I don’t remember the displays containing anything super fancy, mostly basic strands of Christmas lights lining everything in sight. Christmas music blared from someone’s yard so you always had your windows down even if it was 30 degrees outside — or was that just my family?

You drove through the neighborhood in bumper to bumper traffic “oohing” and “ahing” at the hundreds and hundreds of lights. We always went through at least once a year, after driving through Sumach Cumberland Presbyterian Church’s living nativity, typically in our flannel Christmas pajamas.

There were often years we went through Flood Town several times, stopping in on our way back home from eating in town. Each time we discovered something else wrapped in lights we hadn’t noticed the first time.

My senior year of high school, my friend Amy and I spent a lot of time driving around listening to music. This was back in 1999 when gas prices were still less than $1 per gallon so we could afford it. That holiday season we kept taking turns driving through Flood Town.

Now that I have a child, I find myself missing Flood Town more and more. My husband has heard me, for the last seven years or so, blab on and on about how I wish they still did it so he could see for himself what I’m talking. I’ve yet to find anything that compares.

The other night he remarked he wished there was a place he could take Sophie, our 13-month-old daughter, to see lights.

We talked about possibly doing the light show at Eton City Park. Lights dance and flash to the beat of a song. It runs nightly through Jan. 1 from 6 to 10 Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 11 Friday and Saturday.

This year there are a lot more activities in addition to watching the show, according to Secret Santa founder Sheila Peabody. Secret Santa, an organization that helps buy presents for children, now runs the show and has added Santa sleigh rides, a craft area, rocking chairs, photos with not just Santa but the Grinch or more characters, too. All activities are $5 or less. For more information visit

It’s a worthy cause and is sure to be fun, but it’s still not the same as riding through a neighborhood in your pajamas sipping hot chocolate from the Favorite Market. Besides, Sophie is still a little young for all those activities and to be out in the cold.

Sumach’s nativity is Tuesday, Dec. 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. this year. Fairy Valley Baptist Church on Highway 411 North has a nativity on Dec. 8 and 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. that features 12 scenes from Jesus’ life that would be fun to drive through, too.

I continued to brainstorm ideas for a new tradition.

Monday while I was sitting in the office, I got a phone call from a very sweet lady named Donna Embick. She said she wanted to let people know she has a light display at her home that the public is invited to come drive through and view them. I arranged it with her to come take some photos. She said she’s in remission after a battle with breast cancer and it gives her great “joy” to see children enjoying her lights.

Because she said that, I asked if it was OK to bring my husband and daughter along. I swung by my house, loaded up my family and headed to north Murray County to 153 Charlotte Drive, off Fullers Chapel Road. It’s the drive on the left out a small dirt road. If you head out there, be careful and courteous of others because you have to drive down to the house, circle and drive back out the same way you came in, but there’s not room to pass an oncoming car. The Embicks, Donna and her husband Jay, say they keep the lights on until about 9:30 nightly through the holiday season.

Sophie clapped and squealed as she saw the lights — more than 8,000 of them twinkling as Christmas music played, several inflatable snow globes and figures, a train set and a dancing Santa, to which my daughter kept waving. She kept pointing and saying “light” in every direction.

It was a smaller scale version of what I had been missing.

So there may not be a Flood Town anymore, but I’m thankful some people have given my family new holiday traditions to look forward to. Maybe Sophie will one day annoy everyone with stories and descriptions from her nights of riding around looking at lights, too.

Murray County native Misty Watson is a photographer and writer for The Daily Citizen. Tweet your favorite holiday traditions using #dcntraditions. Email photos of light displays past and present — include where and when it was taken — to