FREEPORT — With the flip of a switch Thanksgiving night, Nancy Steiner of Freeport brings a colorfully decorated tree in the shape of a red apple to life to signify the beginning of the Christmas season on Stephenson Street in Freeport.

The red apple has been a fixture next to her home for more than 50 years, a tradition that Steiner began with her husband, Stanley.

Why a red apple? Steiner tells the story of being a poor little girl that used to look forward to getting a red delicious apple in a Christmas basket from The Salvation Army each year.

“When my husband and I decided to decorate the tree next to our home, I wanted an apple. To me, it signifies Christmas.”

In Scioto Mills, it is John and Irene Marean who create a “winter wonderland” with more than 50,000 lights on display on their property. John begins decorating in October on his half-acre property located north of Freeport.

Each year, John scours garage sales during the summer and hits the holiday sales after Christmas to buy the many lighted displays on his property. He has several Nativity scenes, and every tree is strung with lights. Colorful snowflakes hang from the branches and the Mareans’ initials light up the roof of their garage.

“This is something that makes me happy, and I try to mix it up each year,” John said.

On Locust Street in Freeport, Derek Simons has been decorating his house for more than 20 years. He said he loves the “joy and cheer” of Christmas. Adding new decorations each year, he has a multitude of lights, plus the popular blow-ups seen in many yards.

“I just love the Christmas season, when people try to be a little nicer to one another,” Simons said. “I’m trying to share a little joy and cheer with my decorations. I do it for everyone, plus it helps get me in the spirit of the holidays.

“My favorite thing to watch is when the cars slow down to see the decorations or even stop to take pictures. That really makes all the work and the electric bill worthwhile,” he added.

On Revere Street in Freeport, Douglas Wilhelms is usually known for his elaborate Halloween displays. It was about five years ago he decided to take his Christmas spirit to another level. He said the best thing is creating his displays from scratch.

John Marean said he loves to step outside each night to check on his lights and take a view of the artistry he creates for others every year.

“It’s about a winter wonderland, and I love that people enjoy it,” John said. “This is what makes me happy to see the joy coming from others.”

Jane Lethlean; jlethlean1210@gmail.com; @DOGWMN2