December 5, 2021

Ending 2020 on a brighter note

Lights, decorations get people into the spirit of the holidays

S.N. Briere/ staff reporter

Wendy Carr, who lives at 41 Owego St., Cortland, has a tradition of putting out a big Christmas display that includes Santa, his reindeer and more.

A Snoopy blow up hangs out on the porch of 89 Greenbush St., Cortland, his dinosaur friend is on the lawn holding a gift.

“They love the inflatables,” Stephanie Ayers said of her two boys. “It was a countdown until we could decorate. It was something to look forward to this year.”

This is just one of the many decorated houses scattered across the greater Cortland area. Some are participating in lighting and decorating contests, others do it because it’s tradition, but many just want to bring a smile to people’s faces during the coronavirus pandemic.

In McGraw, decorated homes will be judged today for the village’s decorating contest. Drive through the village and you could find homes decorated throughout.

Santa with his reindeer and sleigh sit on the roof of the 41 Owego St. home in Cortland. More little friends — an elf, a snowman and a nutcracker litter the lawn. Homeowner Wendy Carr said she used to decorate every Christmas with her dad. When he died, she kept the tradition going.

“I would add something new every year or replace something that stopped working,” she said Monday. This year she picked up a new sleigh with reindeer.

“Last year, ours blew off the roof,” she said. She had to get a new nutcracker, too.

Carr said she loves decorating for every holiday — her family’s Christmas display is the largest of all the holidays.

She and her husband Larry will also dress up as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. They started doing it last year.

This year, they’ll do it to bring a smile to her grandchildren’s faces because they haven’t been able to see Santa due to the coronavirus, she said. “They’re going to love it.”

But it’s also nice to see people’s faces as they drive or walk by, said, noting people have stopped to take photos.

“2020 has not been very nice, so we hope everyone enjoys our display,” Carr said.

In Groton, a light show at 411 Peru Road gets people smiling and even out of their cars dancing. It’s become so much of an annual tradition that a few years ago, when homeowner John Scott couldn’t put them up because he fell off his ladder, people thought he had died.

“It’s grown over the years,” he said. This year its 20,000 pixels are set to various songs for 30 to 40 minutes.

He’s been setting the stage since late August.

“It’s fun for us,” he said, noting he is accepting donations for the Cayuga Medical Center Foundation to support cancer research. He’s raised $540 so far.

Show us your decorations

Email photos of your decorated houses to or send them to our Facebook page at

Enter decorating contests

  • Cortland Community Center: Email by Dec. 31 a photo of your decorated wall, space or home to
  • Groton Village LED light contest: All lights must be LED. Email the village at or call 607-898-3966 to enter. You must provide name, address and contact number Winners will be announced Dec. 21 on and the Groton Village Facebook page. First place is a $50 electronic gift certificate and second place is a $25 electronic gift certificate.

Check out the light shows

  • Scottland Light Show
    Where:411 Peru Road, Groton
    When: 5-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
    How: Pull off to shoulder of road, turn off headlights and tune into 89.7 FM
  • Seibert Holiday Light Show
    Where: 4390 Cosmos Hill Road, Cortlandville
    When: 5 to 10 p.m. nightly, through Jan. 3
    How: Park, tune radio to 107.7 FM

Stop by some other decorated places

  • 7 Cedar St., Cortland
  • 5153 Clinton Ave., Cortland
  • 173 Tompkins St., Cortland
  • 86, 87, 90 Greenbush St., Cortland
  • 13 Washington St., Cortland
  • 32 Maple Ave., Cortland
  • Water Works, Broadway, Cortland