Good holiday light displays attract visitors year after year, but in Pickaway County, there are none quite as unique as the “milk jug house” on Stoutsville Pike.
Gary Lowe started the tradition more than 30 years ago, inspired by a small display he saw and how those lights looked illuminating the plastic.
His first year, he said, which was around 1982-83, he started with a small decoration around one window of his home. The second year, he used the lighted jugs to line his driveway. After three decades, his annual display now includes more than 4,000 milk jugs, soda and juice bottles arranged in a variety of shapes and patterns.
“I started making the tree, then the snowman, then ornaments,” Lowe said. “Every year, I kept thinking about what I could do new this year.”
The elaborate display now includes many hand-crafted designs, including a train, candy canes, the American flag and, of course, the iconic “Got Milk” sign.
“I added the flag after 9/11,” Lowe said. “I thought that was fitting that year. But no one ever made any comment about it. I was kind of surprised by that.”
Over the years, his popular display has been featured in the Circleville Herald and the Columbus Dispatch and actually won an award from WBNS-10tv for holiday light displays.
While Lowe said he appreciates that kind of recognition, it’s the response of local folks that really makes it worthwhile.
“I just had a lady tell me she likes my lights and asked when I am turning them on,” he said. “I get a lot of people asking about it. It makes me feel old sometimes, though, when people say things like, ‘I remember when my mother took me out there as a kid,’ and you’re standing there talking to an adult.”
That’s OK with him, though, because he likes knowing his efforts are appreciated.
“I’d like to know how many family albums my milk jugs are in,” he said. “That’s interesting to think about.”
Lowe said he welcomes people to walk around the display but prefers they don’t drive around on his property.
“I see people tip-toeing out there all the time, like they’re not supposed to be there,” he said. “I’d rather they didn’t drive around, but I don’t mind if they walk and check it out.”
Lowe said he begins setting up his display around the second week of November and begins lighting them each year on Dec. 1.
He figures the electricity for his display costs him about $300 to $400 for the month. Combined with the time and effort to put them out, it’s obviously a fair investment for him.
“I don’t mind that, though,” Lowe said. “If people get enjoyment out of it, that’s what makes it worthwhile.”
More information about the display can be found by searching “Milk Jug Mania” on Facebook.