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Glow of lights adorn Christmas spirit in Richfield

There’s something contagious going around in Richfield. It starts with a wide-eyed gaze, followed by an uncontrollable smile and then a warmness around the heart.

Turn down North Main Street and passersby will surely catch it.

Yes, the spirit of Christmas is alive in the town of Richfield. And they don’t mind sharing this infectious gift that keeps on giving year after year.

It all started eight years ago when Brian and Christie NeCaise and daughters Shana and Sydnee Helms began decorating their home for Christmas. Everything started out modestly until Shana got old enough to become a decorating force.

Shana, left-right, and Sydnee Helms along with mother Christie and step-father Brian NeCaise stand on their decorated front porch. The family has helped spearhead a community-wide effort to decorate North Main Street, Richfield, with Christmas lights.

Each passing year led to more lights, which beckoned… more lights. Then came wreaths and yard ornaments.

“I do it to celebrate Jesus and put a smile on everybody’s face,” said Shana, who learned the power of Christmas decorations as a child.

Thousands and thousands of lights adorn the family’s home. Even the backyard fence is draped with Christmas lights.

After they decked out their own house, they next turned toward the neighbors who had already begun to stir in the holiday spirit.

Neighbors slowly began to decorate their homes. They, too, started with humble, more traditional decorations. Only they slowly added to the season’s arsenal.

Of course, Brian, Christie, Shana and Sydnee were all too glad to lend a hand.

“We’ve helped everybody,” Christie said. “We’ve been up on the roof, whatever needed to be done.”

Just as a Christmas season comes to a close, Shana seizes the chance to catch more decorations at bargain prices. Even summer yard sales are fair game for picking up extra Christmas decor.

What they couldn’t use, neighbors surely could.

This year Shana turned her attention to 80-year-old neighbor Ritchie Deese. His home was void of decorations.

After several weeks of wanting to deck Ritchie’s home, Shana finally asked for his permission to which he gladly approved.

Traces of snow against an early night create a blue backdrop for the Christmas lights at the home of Ritchie Deese in Richfield.

“My parents did that for me while I was growing up, and now I get to do this for others,” Shana, 20, said.

Not only did the cascading bright lights against the night of the Christmas season bring a wide grin to Ritchie, but the spirit again captured the attention of neighbors.

“We really didn’t know how it would affect everybody,” Christie said.

Neighbors, especially Ritchie’s children, let them know what it meant to see their father’s house brightly lit for the holidays.

The kind gesture prompted Terry Deese and wife Lisa to offer: “What a great surprise when we drove by,” adding the decorations “put life in the old house.”

They said Ritchie was more accepting of Shana and her family’s kindness, more so than anyone else.

“Ritchie needed it and Terry and I needed it,” Lisa Deese said. “I did not realize until I saw those lights how much I missed having all my children young again. Empty nest is real and it takes only someone and something so kind to just make a difference in someone’s Christmas.”

Those kind words and appreciation only strengthened the importance of sharing love during Christmas.

“We didn’t realize what something so small could mean to someone,” Christie said. “You never know what others are going through that you could make a difference in someone’s Christmas. Christmas lights symbolize Christ Jesus being the light of the world. My family and neighbors love Christmas and we want to share with the community the light of the world.”

Christmas lights line the top of a backyard fence at the NeCaise home in Richfield.

Lights and decorations have spread like fire in the tiny, two-traffic-light town of Richfield.

Neighbors along North Main Street share decorations. There’s even talk of a friendly competition next year among the tight-knit group.

One neighbor, who has a Grinch figure pulling string lights off his house, has already begun to playfully tease Shana.

Regardless of any competition, in the end, they all win.

“We’re trying to get Main Street lit up. Slowly, but surely,” Brian said.