By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
While her husband, Mike, has been decorating We Care Park for 17 years, Nancy Wyatt has been doing her own unique form of holiday decorating.
For the past six years, she has crafted and decorated seven full-sized Christmas trees and numerous others in the couple’s house.
From small trees made of mints and gumdrops to a more elaborate tree decorated with candy canes and giant lollipops, Wyant spends at least a month preparing for the holiday.
The Wyants have been married 45 years, and the tradition of decorating around their house to benefit We Care started the year they arrived in the area in 1995.
“That first year we moved here, [Mike] put out some lights,” Nancy recalled. “I told him they looked pretty, and maybe he should collect money for We Care.”
Nancy said she is not all that surprised the annual decorations now extend more than a block and contain an estimated 1 million lights.
“The word gets spread around,” she said of the annual gathering to view the display. “I can remember growing up and going to Forest Park to look at the lights.”
She said the annual light display is Mike’s ministry.
Nancy likes to attend the annual lighting, which takes place at 6 p.m. today, to see people they know. She said its a fun time, and she likes to see the smile on Mike’s face when everything lights.
She said the first or second year, everything went black after the lights were turned on. Nancy said the amount of current being used damaged the wiring in the couple’s house.
“We haven’t forgotten what the season is for,” Nancy said. “To love Jesus is the reason for the season.”
Nancy said she didn’t know why she started decorating full-sized Christmas trees in the couple’s home.
“I was interested in floral design,” she said. “After I retired from GM, I had more time on my hands. I had plenty of time.”
Nancy said it was never her intention to invite people into her house to view the Christmas trees.
“We had parties for friends, and Mike would bring certain people in to see the trees,” she said.
Wyant said 2011 was going to be the last year to decorate the seven trees. But she decided to do it one more time for her son’s family, visiting from Texas.
Nancy said her daughter, who lives in Noblesville, is getting concerned about her climbing ladders, and she cautions people to be mindful when using them.
One of 13 children, Nancy said her father always brought home a tree on Christmas Eve, and the family would make handmade decorations.
Of the seven trees decorated in her home, Nancy said it would be difficult to pick a favorite. She did say the candy cane tree was special to her grandchildren.
“Every year there is something different on the candy cane tree,” Nancy said. “I buy everything in threes, so each of my granddaughters can divide them up.”
There are certain decorations on the trees that bring back special memories.
“A friend of mine brought me a decoration from her father’s last Christmas,” she said. “They called the decorations ‘Little Noggins,’ which were made by her mother. I think about her every year.”
Another tree in the master bathroom is all white and was inspired by a white boa left by a granddaughter.
Nancy said a friend from grade school brought her 20 crocheted ornaments that now adorn a smaller tree.
In the past she has helped decorate three trees for the We Care Trim-A-Tree Festival.