DELPHOS — An impressive array of illuminated Christmas decorations at a home just outside Delphos has delighted passersby for 50-plus years.
During each of the previous holiday seasons, Larry Dietering would begin in September to assemble the elaborate display. As the decorations began to take shape, Dietering every now and then would call his wife of 54 years, Diane, outside to lend her thoughts on the work in progress.
“And she’d always give her opinion — one way or the other,” Dietering recalled earlier this week.
Diane died this summer, and the void left by her passing was particularly evident as her husband began the annual labor of love of decorating the family home as he had so many times before.
“This year was real tough. Every time I went to put something up in the yard I thought of her,” Dietering said. “But I do it for all the people who seem to love the display and who come back to see it year after year. I have a lot of grandkids and they all like it. It’s just something that gets in your blood.”
The holiday display at the Dietering residence began shortly after Larry and Diane were married.
“It started out with just some large bulbs for the first several years. Then I started making my own stuff for the display. Today about 90% of the display is stuff I made,” Dietering said. “People ask me how many bulbs there are, but I really don’t know.”
Included are angels and trees made of PVC pipe, seven 8-foot tall candy canes made of tin cans and plywood and a Santa and sleigh display that sits atop the roof of the home.
At 76 years of age, the Santa-on-the-roof thing is a little tricky for Dietering.
“The last couple of years my youngest son has helped with that. Climbing on a roof lets you know you’re old. But I’m kind of particular about how things look so I still go up there (on the roof) and supervise.”
For a brief moment in time Dietering considered making this year’s holiday display the last one — a final tribute to Diane and their years together. Now he’s hoping for a few more good years.
“I’m gonna take it one year at a time. I’m going to shoot for doing this for four more years if I can … until I’m 80. There are just so many people who seem to enjoy it. And it brings a lot of joy to me, too. I enjoy doing it.”
Dietering said that especially during a difficult year where COVID-19 has robbed many people of traditional holiday experiences, “I’ve just got a feeling that more than usual people want to go out and see some holiday lights. I know on Friday and Saturday nights there are a lot of people driving past the house.”
So if you find yourself near Delphos some evening and feel the need for a healthy dose of holiday happiness, just head over to 6060 Defiance Trail — just north of state Route 309. The Dietering residence isn’t hard to spot.
“If you can’t see the house … well, then you just can’t see,” Dietering said with a laugh.