A large Nativity scene graces the front porch of Ann and Sylvain Riendieu's home on Fifth Street in Marietta.
This is the first year we've put it up," Ann said. "We've always had a Nativity inside the house, and for years I've wanted a scene for the outside, but we couldn't find the right one locally."
She eventually found a website, christmasnightinc.com, that sold all kinds of Christmas displays, including a variety of Nativity scenes.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Ann Riendieu looks over the large Nativity scene her family has installed on the front porch of their home on Fifth Street in Marietta.
"We had it shipped here, and it was quite an undertaking to set it up," Ann said, noting her husband and son had to build a special platform to hold the multiple figure display.
They also installed floodlights to illuminate the scene.
She hopes the Nativity will give passers-by pause to remember-in the midst of all of the holiday's current commercialism-that Christmas is celebrated because of the Christ child.
If you go
The Riendieu family's Nativity scene stands on the front porch of their home at 313 Fifth St. in Marietta.
Jim and Ruth Schoonover's 7-foot-high lighted wreath with a Nativity scene in the center can be viewed in front of their home at 605 Wooster St. in Marietta.
Randy and Karen Henthorn's decorated farm can be seen at the intersection of Anderson Road and Fisher Ridge Road in Barlow Township.
"It's really beautiful at night," Ann said. "And people have written us letters saying they're so glad to see we've put up a Nativity scene."
She writes back, encouraging those folks to put up their own Nativity scenes next Christmas.
"It doesn't have to be as large as this one-it could just be something small that tells people not to forget what this holiday is about," Ann said.
A few blocks north on Wooster Street is another Nativity display, surrounded by a huge 7-foot-high lighted wreath on the front porch of Jim and Ruth Schoonover.
"A man from our church made the wreath out of discarded artificial Christmas trees and stands," Jim explained. "But someone stole the baby Jesus out of the Nativity scene a couple of years ago."
Sadly he said the infant figure was never returned.
"I'm a retired minister from the New Matamoras United Methodist Church," Jim said. "But we've enjoyed decorating our home for the holidays all of our married life."
The couple used to hold an annual Christmas open house when they lived in New Matamoras, and invited children from the church into their home.
"We used to decorate with an entire miniature forest of Christmas trees," Jim said. "The children counted 79 trees, small and large, throughout the house one year."
Their daughter, Cassandra Hasley, said they've cut back a bit, but the family still puts up several trees for the holiday every year.
"We decorate inside and out-there are four trees inside the house this year. But mom and I are the work horses-dad just shows us where to put everything," she joked.
Ruth said the family has lived in Marietta for 12 years now, and have continued their Christmas decorations tradition every year.
"Cars often stop out front to look at the decorations, and people take lots of pictures of the house this time of year," she said.
One of the area's largest Christmas displays is located on the Randy and Karen Henthorn farm near the intersection of Anderson Road and Fisher Ridge Road in Barlow Township.
Thousands of multi-colored lights have been strung on trees and along fences, as well as outline the Henthorn's farmhouse, barn and other buildings on the property.
"We've lived here for 16 years, and have probably put the lights up for at least 10 years now," said Karen. "It's quite a bit of work. Greenleaf Landscaping puts lights on the rooflines, but we do everything else, and every year we try to do a little more."
She said the decorating usually begins on the first weekend of November.
"We pray for good weather and I get my girlfriends and kids to help out," Karen said. "We also put up 10 Christmas trees inside the house every year."
Asked why they do so much decorating year after year, she couldn't say.
"I don't know why we do it," Karen said. "My kids say I'm crazy, but I just really love Christmas."
She said her elderly neighbor across the road calls every year and thanks her for putting up the decor.
"And Peggy McPeek, who grew up in this house but later moved to Marietta, always drives out to see the decorations every year," Karen added.
She said the lights stay on display through New Year's Day.