WEST FRANKFORT — Neither a heart attack nor the West Nile Virus in recent years could stop Tim Murphy from wowing spectators with his Candy Cane Lane decorations, and he’s sure not letting COVID-19 stop him this year.
Candy Cane Lane was created more than 35 years ago by Murphy, who taught art at Frankfort Community High School, and his students, father and neighbors. Over the years, it has grown to become the region's premier private Christmas display, taking over five blocks of yards in West Frankfort. It features light displays and hand-painted holiday and Disney characters.
Last year, health problems slowed — but didn’t stop — Franklin County’s jolliest resident. But this year’s warm weather has given Murphy a boost, his sister Marilyn Murphy said.
But, in the final days running up to opening day, Tim Murphy said he came down with something — sore throat and congestion. He said he doesn’t think it’s COVID-19, but it did slow him down. Still, he feels prepared.
“We’ll open Saturday night,” Murphy said speaking with The Southern on a work break Wednesday. Nevertheless, he still feels a bit under the gun.
“I wish I had a couple of my days back,” Murphy said.
Regionally famous holiday light display Candy Cane Lane got its 15 minutes of national fame this week when it was featured on ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight." But, because of a sudden illness, the display almost didn't happen this year.
He said some scenes visitors are used to seeing may not be there this time, like his rock 'n' roll figures, but he has plenty of new Disney characters to keep it fresh. New this year will be four "Toy Story" characters, Vampirina and her parents, Fancy Nancy, two new nutcrackers and Elf on the Shelf.
Marilyn Murphy said she is insisting that her brother take COVID-19 precautions.
“I said, 'I’m not doing it this year.' I don't want people coming in,” she said of her annual indoor display. “I’m even worried about having the elves coming in and out.”
Murphy was candid about how bad her brother getting COVID-19 would be.
“If Tim got it, it probably would kill him,” she said.
Tim Murphy said he’s trying to be cautious as he can be. He said, for example, this year the elves won’t directly be handing out candy canes to visitors in their cars as in years past. Instead they will use a 6-foot piece of pipe to deliver the treats to spectators.
Candy Cane Lane begins Saturday in West Frankfort.
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