DENHAM SPRINGS — Now in its 51st year, the Messenger family Christmas display, which has boasted more than 10,000 lights and 20 custom-built scenes, has withstood the test of time.
Last year, more than 60,000 people stood in line for hours at Clyde Messenger’s Plantation Estates’ home to view the display after it was rumored that 2013 would mark the end of the popular Christmas display.
But this year, it’s back.
On Thursday, neighbors who live on St. Charles Street by North Park viewed the displays and talked about their childhood memories, many of which included a visit to the Messenger’s Christmas display.
Jeremy Messenger took over the daunting job of installing the Christmas display, keeping the tradition his grandfather Clyde Messenger Jr. started in the mid-1960s and his father continued after his grandfather retired.
“Dad retired after 46 years with Exxon and moved to Tennessee,” Jeremy Messenger said.
“It was my duty to take it over,” Messenger said. “It’s always played a part of my childhood.”
From his Tennessee home, Clyde Messenger, who ran the family Christmas display in Denham Springs for 22 years, said he was surprised his son agreed to take on the massive project. “I was thrilled that it was staying in the family.”
Following Christmas 2013, Clyde Messenger searched unsuccessfully for an organization to take on the display.
Now, Clyde Messenger said, “I can sit up here and know that it’s still in the family after 50 years and all of the blood, sweat and tears that my brothers and other family members put into the displays is still being shared with the public.”
While the Christmas display, which lines the driveway of Jeremy Messenger’s home, is a scaled-down version of the one his grandfather and father displayed, neighbors welcomed the Christmas spirit and marveled at the time line of events, documented through photographs and newspaper articles from the first year to the present, which details how the display had grown with each passing year.
“I’ve been coming (to see the display) for the last 50 years,” said John Wilson, adding that he “just likes to see and look and bring the grandchildren.”
“It never gets old,” Wilson said, as he explained that each display contains a nativity scene hidden somewhere inside of the display.
“I think it’s a fabulous family gathering for this time of year,” Bonnie D’Armond said. “I’m proud of my son for taking this on.”
Jeremy and family members began this summer preparing for the display. In addition to outfitting their home to accommodate the displays and the lights, Jeremy Messenger built a new warehouse to display the time line.
To help direct traffic through the neighborhood, the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office has posted no parking signs along the street. Those who wish to view the display must park at North Park and walk over to the Messenger’s home. Law enforcement will help people walking over to the home get there safely, Jeremy Messenger said. He expects about 25,000 people to view this year’s display.
“We’re going to learn a lot this year,” he said.
To learn more about the Messenger’s Christmas display, visit facebook.com/pages/The-Messengers-Christmas-Land/171208162902134.
The display is open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. until Dec. 26.