ROSSVILLE — Family means everything to Gary and Debbie Kinnett of Rossville. And the amazing Christmas light show they create at their country home each December is just another demonstration of love for their five children and their families.
It’s also amazing that Debbie and Gary never begin working on their elaborate indoor/outdoor Christmas displays until the day after Thanksgiving.
“Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday, and we don’t want to pass over it,” Gary said, adding that there were 27 family members at the house for turkey dinner this year.
The couple’s adult children include Alicia Kinnett of Champaign, Emily Kinnett of Rossville, April (Ed) Jones of Hoopeston, John (Becky) Kinnett of Alvin and Jeremy (Amy) Kinnett of Westfield, Ind. They also have eight grandchildren and one on the way.
“We are so fortunate to have everyone healthy,” Debbie said, “and all of our kids have jobs.”
Each year, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Kinnett family gears up to string more than 33,000 multicolored lights on their expansive property 4 miles west of Rossville. Instead of using animated figures in their holiday display, they decorate the house, the farm buildings, the trees and most other stationary objects.
“I guarantee if there’s something in our yard that stands still, then we put lights on it,” Debbie said, laughing.
For the first time this year, Gary is taking guesses from family members on the exact number of lights he put out this year — and the winner will receive a cash prize.
Gary accounts for every single light he strings. He also buys new lights every year because the old ones are most likely burned out, or at least faded.
“He’s so fanatical about his lights,” Debbie said. “If a string goes out, even if it’s after 10 at night, Gary will run out and fix them.” Debbie calls herself the Christmas go-fer because she’s always running into town to purchase additional boxes of lights for the display.