Calvin and Elinor Marcey have been decorating their home at 1610 North Abingdon Street, in Arlington, Virginia, since 1969.
It’s one of those houses that people talk about and want to see every Christmas. Lights, Santas, teddy bears, candy canes, dolls, trains, cartoon characters — it has it all. Santa’s sleigh even sits atop their roof. Holiday lovers have made viewing the display a tradition for decades, and often, people who formerly lived in the neighborhood even come back just to see the decorations.
Martin Doczkat used to live down the street from the Marcey house. He’s brought his young son to see the decorations for about 10 years. Helen Sauvage, another former neighbor, brought a young cousin to enjoy the display. She said it’s sad to hear it is ending but adds: “Things change.”
Visitors learned things were changing from a framed letter the Marcey couple left on a table on their porch next to a train set and a red stocking. In it, Calvin Marcey explains this will be the last year for their renowned display because he needs to focus his attention on his wife’s care.
Marcey writes in the letter:
“Like all of you, we have enjoyed our Christmas display over the last 53 years. Unfortunately, due to Mrs. Marcey’s health condition, we will no longer be able to have a display as my full time and attention will need to be directed to her care. While we appreciate the support of our neighbors who have volunteered to help, it just isn’t practical to continue our display.
We have enjoyed sharing this with you for all these years and appreciate being part of your family’s traditions. Thank you very much and from our entire family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Kristen Hand lives around the corner from the Marceys. She says the glow from their house comes in through her bedroom window. She calls that “really nice and a comfort to look out and see it lit up.” Her son, Lucas, calls the display “iconic” and says he’s “really sad to see it go.”
Hundreds of people have posted good wishes and memories of their visits over the years on a neighborhood Facebook page, saying how much they’ve enjoyed the display. The display includes a “letters to Santa” mailbox. Hand suggests people fill it with thank you notes to the Marceys for the joy they’ve brought to their Arlington neighborhood for over a half-century.