Huge wreath rules on this roof

December 13, 2000

Huge wreath rules on this roof

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Huge wreathGREENCASTLE, Pa. - Vicki Leatherman's home is rimmed with white lights. A fence and an old sleigh are draped with garland. Lights on plastic candy canes illuminate the path leading to the front door.

"The only thing missing was something on the roof," said Leatherman, who lives with her husband, Tony, and three teenage daughters at 3874 Albert Ave. west of Greencastle.

Hence came "the wreath."

"I told Tony that the roof looked too bare," Leatherman said.

She said she thought of stringing more lights across the top of the house, but didn't want it to look like Chevy Chase's house in the 1989 Hollywood movie "Christmas Vacation." In the movie Chase's character decked his home with so many lights that it blew out a nearby power company transformer.


She said she looked for a wreath to put on the roof two years ago , but couldn't find one big enough. She found one that measured 5 feet in diameter last year in a mall in Lancaster, Pa., stuffed it into the family's small sedan and brought it home.

"I thought it was big enough, but when we got it up on the roof it looked lost," she said.

This holiday season rolled around and Leatherman had not given up her hopes of decorating the roof on her Cape Cod home.

"I still wanted a wreath on the roof," she said.

Her husband messed around with some plans on paper and came up with a design he thought would work. It called for a wreath that would stretch 9 feet in diameter in two rings of tubular metal. They would be kept a foot apart by a series of cross brackets welded across both rings. The wreath was made in two pieces fastened together with wingnuts.

One of the Leathermans' daughters attends Franklin County Career and Technology Center. A teacher was asked if the frame could be made in the school based on Tony Leatherman's plan. It cost of about $18, Vicki Leatherman said.

She started the wreath by wrapping 216 feet of garland around the frame. Next, she added a string of 600 lights, then 40 yards of red ribbon. A large bow, a bunch of colorful plastic balls and a few other decorations completed the project.

It took all five Leathermans to hoist the wreath - which by this time weighed more than 100 pounds - up to the roof.

"It was a trip getting it up there," Vicki Leatherman said.

Tony Leatherman lashed it down with straps attached to eyebolts on the sides of the house.

The wreath withstood 60 mph winds that blew through the area Tuesday.

"I was afraid to go outside and look up on the roof that morning," she said.

The wind had knocked down decorations on the ground, but the wreath, like the flag at Fort McHenry, was still there.

"I figure if it stayed up through that, it will hold up through anything," Vicki Leatherman said.

She said she and her husband's families were big on decorating their homes at Christmas, so the tradition is being carried on by their family.

"It's something wonderful to do for the holiday. We try to come up with a different idea every year. Tony is buying an Amish cart. We'll decorate that next year," she said.

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