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His land is your land for the holiday season

December 13, 2000

His land is your land for the holiday season



Editor's note: This is the second in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others.

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town
photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer


Harley PotterKEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. - Harley Potter has been working on his vast outdoor Christmas display for more than 40 years, and he wants the whole world to see it.

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Potter long has placed Christmas figurines outside his house during the holidays.

When four of his children built homes on property in back of his house in 1996, "we all got into it," he said.

The extended family erected big candy canes, Nativity scenes and figurines of Santa Claus and other holiday characters around their houses.

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In 1996, Potter and his children decided to open their creation to the public.

Each evening at 5 p.m., Potter flips the switch on the display and waits for motorists to start streaming onto his property.

All the displays are lighted with strings of Christmas lights. There are reindeer, Snoopy flying in a helicopter, Disney characters including Goofy and Mickey Mouse and a replica of Earth with the words "Peace on Earth."

Like the Earth replica, many of the figurines were formed out of metal and were hand-made by Potter.

"It's just like a city," said Potter as he gave a tour of the site in his pickup truck.

"Everybody that would see it would say, 'why don't we charge?' We said we weren't into it for that. We were into it for the public to enjoy," the 79-year-old Mack Trucks retiree said.

Last year, the family decided to start taking donations for the display and giving the money collected to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Last year, the family sent $1,500 to the hospital, Potter said.

"We keep enough out of it to gravel our road, but the rest goes to them," Potter said.

Potter's house is beside the West Virginia University Experiment Farm along W.Va. 9 about six miles west of Charles Town, W.Va.

Motorists can put a donation in a little red box near Potter's house then drive down the 1,000-foot lane, which loops around in the back.

Despite the fact there is no advertising other than word-of-mouth, about 150 cars pass through the scene every night. The display is lighted until 11 p.m. and is open from Thanksgiving to Jan. 2.

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