Turn onto Sea Oats Drive and enter into Candy Cane Lane. My advice is to park your car at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church and walk past every joyful yard. If you are looking for the Christmas spirit, this will do it for any age.
Seeking a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating this winter wonderland, I choose the home of Nancy and Andy Murphy. Buckle your sleigh ride seats and be amazed at what goes on.
When the Murphys moved into the neighborhood in 2007, the lady across the street said, “I hope you like to decorate.” Andy and Nancy replied, “Yeah, cool, we got some stuff from our other house.”
They had put up a minimum amount of decorations when Bob Dudley, from down the street, came by and said, “Is that all you got?”
I laugh as Andy proclaims, “From that point on it was, “GAME ON!!”
Andy and Nancy got busy, started shopping for Christmas stuff and have been adding more every year. Andy says, “We used to look around in the stores for something new every year; now we are into building our own.”
As I stop by their yard for an interview, Andrew Murphy, Jr. is hard at work putting the finishing coat of red paint on the newly designed nine foot Ferris wheel, handmade by Andy with PVC pipe that will rotate via a small motor.
Nancy feels anxious to go shopping to find seats and toy animals to ride the night away.
Beyond the decorated yard, their brick home is also transformed. They completely cover the front with plywood painted to resemble a gingerbread house. Even around the windows you find layers of white spray foam to simulate icing.
Nancy thought this idea up and I said to her, “Are you serious? Andy must have thought you were smoking something really strong to come up with such an outlandish idea.”
“No, he thought it was a great idea and we cover the house every December.”
Andy is the mastermind behind all the mechanical operations in the front yard and Nancy takes care of decorating all the rooms inside their home.
They fill their living room with laughter as they recount the trials and tribulations over the years of pulling all this together.
Nancy says, “I came home one day to find Andy had devised the sky bucket ride that goes around and around with buckets of animals at just the right speed. I ask where he had found that wonderful motor.”
Shame-faced but with a grin, he had to admit that Nancy no longer had the motor in her rotisserie cooker. I think she got a new one for Christmas that year.
Several years ago, they ordered a train online, but then Andy had to build the track to go all the way across the yard. The bear conductor rides the rails and passes through a train station that puffs smoke from the chimney. Andy concocted a fog machine that is connected to the chimney by PVC pipes. A timer allows puffs of smoke every 30 seconds for 15 seconds.
And did I forget to mention the 22-foot high tree on the top of the house.
I ask the Murphys why they do this and I get many answers.
“You only have to stand out one night to see the grinning, laughing, awe-filled faces. The little kids still have that magic in them, you can see it in their faces — it’s contagious. I don’t think we could ever not do it.”
After walking through Candy Cane Lane, I find that the warm, satisfying Christmas magic drifts along with me as I button up my coat in the chilly night air of Destin and head for home.
Laura Hall is a longtime Destin resident. She explores local topics with her dog Annie. If you would like to be profiled in a future column, contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Candy Cane Lane:
Lights come on at dusk, and shut down at 10 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends. On Christmas Eve and Christmas, displays are on all day and all night.
The Log announces the winners of the city of Destin holiday decorating contest.