For most travelers, the community of Manns Harbor is a crossroads you drive through on your way to someplace else. But during the month of December it is a destination unto itself thanks to the hard work of Tideland member Christopher Coley. His annual Christmas light display continues to grow with each passing year with the local post office building being the focal point.
During the second week in November, under blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures, 34-year-old Christopher Coley began work on his annual Christmas light display in Manns Harbor. With each passing year, more lights are added and this year Coley estimates the finished product will feature 400,000 bulbs.
Coley, a landscaper by trade, has been stringing lights as far back as he can remember. His first large-scale display was originally located on Old Ferry Dock Road, but further expansion required relocating. Fortunately the owner of the building that houses the Manns Harbor post office was more than willing to provide a canvas for Coley’s holiday vision. Thus, for the past eight years it has been the focal point of the ever-expanding display, complete with outdoor speakers that pipe out Christmas caroles.
When Coley moved into the house across the street from the post office that gave him an opportunity to expand further. With no trees on the property, he constructs his own with heavy-duty anchoring to guard against the constant and sometimes heavy winds that come rolling in from the Croatan Sound. He also lights up his neighbor’s property, as well as a large home behind the post office.
The switch is finally flipped the first weekend in December and can be viewed in all its glory between sunset and 9:30 p.m. daily. On Christmas Eve the lights remain on overnight. Coley encourages you to check the weather forecast before making the drive to Manns Harbor. In the event of rain, thick fog or unusually high winds he powers it off.
How much does it cost to power the annual light show? Two metered services carry the bulk of the load and last year they totaled $436.46. Of course, we should point out that Coley only uses incandescent light strands. Turns out he’s not a fan of LED Christmas lights.
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