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franklin county times

Phil Campbell’s Christmas with McCollums returns for third year

Adam and Lesley McCollum celebrate Christmas in a big way. It’s all part of the McCollum Christmas tradition.

For the third year, they are putting out an extra special Christmas display in their yard, complete with painted decorations – about a couple hundred in total – and, of course, lights.

Community members are invited to drive through and see the display, fully ready as of the day after Thanksgiving, and the McCollums have a circular drive, making it easy to see everything up close.

In 2020 the couple had a special Meet and Treat night, during which 300-400 cars drove through, and they handed out candy canes and pamphlets. “We want people to know about the true meaning of Christmas,” said Lesley. She said they plan to have a similar event this year, but they haven’t set the date for it yet.

Visitors who have viewed Christmas with the McCollums in the past still might want to make plans to return this year, as several new pieces have been added to the display.

Big additions to the collection this year were inspired by a trip to Disney World, during which the McCollums enjoyed a fully-immersive Toy Story experience. They said they love all the Toy Story movies, and they have several of the characters for their display, including Woody, Buzz, Bo Peep, Mister Ham, Slinky Dog, the aliens and Forky, the last of which they said is probably their favorite.

“I want people to feel like they’re in the movie,” said Adam, “like the characters crawled right out of the television.”

Of course, the beloved Toy Story characters aren’t the only familiar faces on the McCollums’ lawn. From Whoville to the Peanuts gang, there’s plenty of variety.

“We also added gnomes and some random pieces here and there,” said Adam, “and while we love all our decorations, Jesus is the centerpiece of everything here. We have the manger out front, and it will always be our foremost piece.”

There’s even a mailbox for Letters to Santa. Every child who includes their address will receive a reply. This past year, Santa received about 50 letters at the McCollums’.

“We love the lights and decorations and seeing how the display changes from year to year,” said Lesley’s mother, Diane Pounders. “It’s very festive, but what we love most is the excitement it brings to Adam and Lesley as they are able to share their love for Christmas and its true meaning.”

“The decoration that always especially catches my eye is the breast cancer awareness scene,” noted Lesley’s sister, Linsey Skinner. “I think of Adam’s mom and her bright smile. It’s a wonderful tribute he’s made to her.”

“I like the Mr. Grinch,” said the McCollums’ 6-year-old niece, Addie Brooke Skinner, “because it’s funny, and I also like Jesus in the barn because he died for our sins.”

The McCollum family has a long-standing tradition of going all out for Christmas. In his childhood home in Tuscumbia, Adam developed an early love for all things Christmas. He said one of his favorite family traditions was going with his parents and grandparents to visit the wildly popular Wright’s house in Leighton to see their extensive decorations and lighting display – a favorite yearly tradition for many families in the area.

“My parents and I were really inspired and started working on our own display when the Wrights decided to retire the tradition,” said Adam. “Nobody was in place to pick it up, so we wanted to step in. We even bought some of their pieces to go with ours.”

Tim had decided he was ready to retire the tradition around the time Adam and Lesley got married, so Adam and Lesley relocated the tradition to their home. They put up decorations their first Christmas in Phil Campbell but did not officially encourage visitors that year. Adam said they added the drive-through component of the display in 2019.

With the tradition having moved from Tuscumbia to Phil Campbell, the McCollums spread the word via their Facebook page. They have more than 1,900 followers, and they often hear from people who have enjoyed their displays and are looking forward to the next one.

On average the couple adds 10-15 new pieces each year. “We try to add something big every year, and we like to have a theme,” Adam explained. “We have a little bit of everything, including Smurfs, gingerbread and Charlie Brown” – the last being particularly important, as “I told Lesley I could give her a Charlie Brown Christmas. Maybe that helped convince her to marry me.”

Adam said the couple hopes their display can be part of the special magic of Christmas and “help give everyone a reason to be happy and to help them understand about the most important part of Christmas.”

The McCollums encourage everyone to drive by and to get a closer look by following the circular drive. The house is located at 5075 Gravel Hill Road in Phil Campbell. Additional information is available by calling 256-810-0425 or visiting the Christmas with the McCollums Facebook page.