Leitersburg family shows it has a flare for holidays

December 22, 1997

Leitersburg family shows it has a flare for holidays


Staff Writer

LEITERSBURG - Howard "Butch" Buhrman flips a switch and the trees in his front yard light up. He flips another and his house starts to glimmer.

Four more breakers and his three-acre Clopper Road property twinkles with the glow of 22,000 lights.

The massive Christmas display has become a tradition for the Buhrman family.

Thousands of people have made getting a glimpse of the light show a part of their holiday celebrations.

"Our biggest goal is to bring a little happiness to people of all ages," Buhrman said.

It all started when Butch and Betty Buhrman's son, Dwayne, decided to string a few lights on his parents' front porch for the holidays.


That was about 15 years ago.

Dwayne Buhrman, 29, is now married and living in Waynesboro, Pa.

But every year, he and other family members and friends get together to create the display. They usually start the Friday after Thanksgiving and it takes five to seven days to complete the job.

The work crew includes the Buhrmans' oldest son Rodney and their son-in-law Keith Newell.

A 16-foot ladder used to be tall enough to get the job done, but now they use a 24-foot extension ladder that barely reaches the tops of a dozen trees.

Betty Buhrman, Butch's wife, doesn't get involved in the setup.

"I always tell everybody, 'I cook,'" she said.

She also is in charge of lighting the display most nights, while Butch is working second shift in the machining department at Mack Trucks Inc. in Hagerstown.

Along with the lights, there is a small manger scene in the front yard that features live sheep.

The Buhrmans said they enjoy seeing the smiles the display brings to people's faces.

"It's the little things that people do that make it all worthwhile," Butch Buhrman said.

Some people show their appreciation for the display.

The family gets Christmas cards from strangers, and recently they arrived home to find a container of cookies on their porch.

Every year brings new adventures.

Once, a windstorm blew down some of the lights. Birds nesting in the trees and rabbits chewing on the cords have caused glitches.

One year, one of their sheep had triplets. That caused quite a stir.

Over the years, they have learned that blue and green lights tend to fade more quickly than other colors. They know to stock up on replacement lights during day-after-Christmas sales.

Every year, the Buhrmans add to and rework the display.

This year, they replaced the lights in the border with multi-colored strands.

This also is the first full year of a lighted "Peace on Earth" sign that Dwayne Buhrman made.

The family jokes that to outdo themselves next year they'll have to string battery-powered lights on their flock of 15 sheep.

Many people wonder how much it costs for the illumination. Butch Buhrman figures about $150 a month.

"If we can plant a little seed and bring some happiness, it's worth it all," Buhrman said.

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