MARYVILLE, Mo. — “We’re all gonna have so much fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our smiles,” noted Clark Griswold in the film “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and it mirrors the bright hope that Holly Kay Cronk, owner of Ferluknat Farm, wants to provide others with the Maryville Tour of Lights.
Cronk said the idea for a free map that shows the location of local decorated homes came to her a few years ago. She started it last year, but probably too late. So this year Cronk’s getting an early start.
As a child, she recalled trips in the car driving around Colorado to see all the huge displays put on by industries at family homes.
“You went to all the hot neighborhoods, but you never really knew if you were going to see a lot of action or not, because you didn’t have a map,” Cronk said.
With this free map, she hopes to offer an illuminated path throughout town making it a destination for people to visit.
As the season changes, Cronk said they’ve received seven addresses this week, “But we look for it to grow as people are starting to get out and decorate.”
Anyone who plans to decorate their home for the holiday season can place their address on the map. It’s not only for people planning extreme displays, though Cronk wants those too.
“If it’s simple and classic and beautiful to the ‘Griswold Special,’ I don’t care,” she said. “Share your talent. I call (them) exterior illuminating engineers.”
There may even be a couple of prizes in it for some entrants. Cronk said there might be a traveling trophy, a people’s choice award or more. The prizes haven’t been decided yet. While there may be only a couple prizes this year, she’s looking for it to grow every year and to create a new holiday tradition in Maryville.
She hopes that this even will help add to the cheer throughout the season because even though the Downtown Maryville Christmas Parade is set for Friday, Dec. 4; the annual ShopHop is set for Saturday, Dec. 5; and the Christmas Homes Tour is set for Sunday, Dec. 6, that’s really only one weekend. This map could help provide families with something to do together throughout the season.
The deadline for entries hasn’t yet been set and Cronk’s hoping a lot of people join in the effort to raise spirits and boost morale throughout town.
“I want Maryville to shine so bright that it can be seen from the space station,” Cronk told The Forum on Tuesday. “That’s what I want. I want us to just be the light.”
Because the event is completely socially distanced with people likely viewing from their vehicles, she’s hoping that this event will offer a fun break for families stuck in a funk or quarantined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She’s had numerous conversations with parents about their children experiencing depression from missing out on activities or being quarantined due to contact.
“I’m hopeful that this one thing could be uplifting, maybe somehow make a difference,” she said. “Maryville is an excellent destination to come spend the day, come spend the weekend with us. We are slowly morphing into that fun place to visit.”
It’s not just about family homes either, she’s hopeful that Downtown Maryville business owners will design their storefronts and add their businesses to the list.
“The sooner you can jump on the list the better,” Cronk said, because she alone will be aggregating the addresses and creating the map.
To be added to the free map, visit https://bit.ly/MaryvilleTourofLights, to sign up. Cronk said that only the addresses provided will be put on the map, not names, phone numbers or any other information required on the form.
The map will be available through Facebook and she hopes by email and text. Cronk said she’s working to find an interactive map that will help drivers, but may resort to pinning each address onto a map.
Once the map is created and made available it will be updated until the final close date, likely mid-December.