Former county sheriff’s passion for Christmas lights shines very brightly at this time of year

Kent Farthing stands next to some of the displays lit up in his front yard. The display can be viewed through New Year’s Day at 1274 Waterworks Rd., Huntington.
Kent Farthing stands next to some of the displays lit up in his front yard. The display can be viewed through New Year’s Day at 1274 Waterworks Rd., Huntington. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 11, 2017.

Anyone driving out Waterworks Road on Huntington’s suburban south side will see Kent Farthing’s passion displayed in thousands of lights throughout his yard and on his house.

And it’s still a work in progress.

His house, located at 1274 Waterworks Rd., has about two acres of grass, perfect for staging his display. There is also a pond lit up by encircling lights, and an illuminated Conestoga wagon on the property.

Farthing, a former county sheriff who retired seven years ago from the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, has lived in his home for 20 years. He started putting up his Christmas display about 15 years ago and it has grown larger every year. His passion for creating his own display was inspired by seeing other such holiday light displays throughout the area.

“We always visited Sunken Gardens, and we’ve always made an annual trip down to Marion to see their lights down there,” he says. “We always made that a family tradition of going to see the lights, and even went to Fort Wayne to see theirs out at Franke Park.”

Farthing has no idea how many thousands of lights are in the displays. He estimates he has some 30 to 40 displays throughout his property that take him about 40 hours to put up. He has no estimates at all on how much money he’s spent on the collection; however, he can expect his electric bill to go up about $150 over and above the regular monthly charge to keep it lit. It takes five circuits to power the display, which comes on at dusk via timers.

Back when he had fewer displays, Farthing used a wheelbarrow to haul them and the multiple extension cords around the yard to set them up, but after a few years it became problematic.

“It took me so long to do that, so here a couple of years ago we bought a golf cart so now I have a golf cart and a trailer behind it, so I can put out a lot more lights and more extension cords in it. Actually, I start putting them up at the end of October and November, while the weather is still warm out.”

Besides the wagon, there are deer, decorated trees, angels and of course Santa Claus. He doesn’t bother with the blow-up balloon-type figures; Farthing’s display is all about the lights, which are his first love.

“I love Christmas; I love the hype of Christmas, getting ready,” he confides. “It’s not the same now since we don’t have the little ones in the house, when the kids were growing up and all excited. The kids are grown up and moved out of the house, but I guess I’m still a big kid at heart and love Christmas. I think that’s one of my favorite holidays.”

He says his wife, Diana, is also enthusiastic about the display, fueling her husband’s passion by finding outdoor displays to buy and add to his collection. She also has decorated the inside of their home, crowned by a 10-foot-tall Christmas tree visible in the front picture window.

“Last year my wife came home with two cases of lights that she bought, real reasonable,” he adds. “She got 20-some boxes of lights for I think about 75 percent off.”

Now with grandchildren coming along, the Farthings enjoy the delight seen in the youngsters’ eyes when the character displays begin to sparkle and shine.

“We call (the driveway) Gracie Lane, because we put the Minnie Mouse out there and a bear and things that are close to the driveway for when she comes,” he explains, referring to his granddaughter, Gracie, 4, whom they often babysit. “We put more of the animals on that long driveway so she can see them more clearly, and she enjoys it when she comes.”

The mostly red and white-themed display has caused many traveling by to slow down to take in the view of all the different trees, animals and characters glowing in the yard. Some have even commented to the Farthings how the display has put them in the Christmas spirit.

“What makes me feel good is that a lot of people have come up to me and say, ‘We really enjoy your lights,’” he says.

“That’s a thrill that I get that at least the public and friends can come by and see it and enjoy it, too … If you’re sitting out here you can watch them slow down.”

The Farthings will also welcome their family to come back home to celebrate Christmas, with a small gathering for about 20 at home and an extended family get-together at a rented hall for between 70 and 80. No doubt some of them will also swing by his house to enjoy his lights display.

“My biggest thing is just having the general public enjoy our lights,” he says. “This is my baby.”