This family’s decorations hold court on their Hamilton street

But you’d better look quick, they are often gone on Dec. 26

After a season of darkness in December, 2020, the Christmas-light displays are again shining brightly on Van Buren Court.

The lights at Sheila and Sam Pike’s home, of 55 Van Buren, and several households they are related to, are offering their usual pleasant glow after a gap last year, when Sam was ill with COVID-19. But Sam, a postal-carrier, is better and back in action.

They won an award for it from Ann Coombs, a Hamilton woman who presents awards to people who beautify their homes with landscaping during the warm months. She also honors holiday decorations for Christmas and Halloween.

After Coombs decided the Pikes deserved the Christmas-decorating award this year, she was pleased to learn several relatives, including Sheila’s parents — Pearl and Dema Lee — two of her sisters and their husbands, plus one of the brother-in-laws’ mother, also live on the court. Coombs decided Van Buren Court as a whole deserved the award.

Sheila Pike’s parents have lived about 52 years on Van Buren Court, which is off of Van Buren Drive in the East End neighborhood, about two blocks from the five-points intersection. Sheila and Sam have lived on Van Buren 34 years.

“My parents will say it didn’t all plan out that way, it just happened and it’s wonderful, to be here next to your parents” and sisters, Sheila Pike said.

“I remember being a child and they would put lights up for us,” she said.

“When it got started was when my son was born (almost 31 years ago), and we started putting up a little lights,” she said. “Then each year, it just got bigger and bigger. Now, we have people that come here every year, they say. They’ll stop us and tell us that. They came here as kids and enjoyed it. Now, they’re bringing their kids back.”

“Everyone started participating more,” she said.

“We didn’t do it last year, and no one else did, either,” she said.”

“It was dark in here. It didn’t seem right. Everything was always lit up around here. And people, that’s their tradition, they say. They go out on certain nights and there’s places. And this is one of them.”

“It seems to make the kids happy,” she said.

“We’re the Griswolds, I guess,” she said with a laugh, referring to the family of over-the-top-Christmas-decorator Chevy Chase’s character Clark Griswold in the film “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” “We’re the ones on the corner, so you can spot us on Grand Boulevard.”

Santa Claus watches visitors from a gazebo in a side yard that was a 25th anniversary gift from her husband. They’ve now been married 36 years.

And that brings us to the fact that Christmas isn’t the only thing this clan tends to celebrate together. There’s also wedding anniversaries for the sisters, which happen Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, with the parents’ on Dec. 3.

“So we’re all right in a row,” she said. “We have an awesome family.”

One thing about the large display brings a big surprise to people: “Come Dec. 26, if the weather’s good, people are shocked, because they drive by, and everything is down,” Sheila said.

“I’ll take everything down and have it on the driveway” the day after Christmas, she said. “And people will drive by, like, ‘Where did everything go?’ As long as the weather cooperates. If not, we’ll leave it up longer.”

Coombs said she thought the extended-family lighting “was worth giving the whole neighborhood an award,” which will be officially awarded at a Hamilton City Council meeting in January, although a sign already is proudly displayed.

“You know, there’s something about corner lots,” Coombs said. “They always seem to go all out.”

Coombs can’t get over a family living all on one street. So in 16 years of giving out awards, that was the first she awarded to adjoining households.

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