clMcColl, S.C. – For the past 11 years the Adams family have opened their property to the public to share the magic of Christmas.
That magic will end this year.
Michael Adams, owner of Adams Landscaping, announced that Candy Cane Wonderland, the much loved yearly display of hundreds of Christmas lights and lawn ornaments, will close permanently. Adams cited increasing violence as the family’s main reason for closing the event.
“Safety is the absolute number one factor. I didn’t feel like I could keep my family safe as far out here as we are, and I didn’t feel like I could keep the people coming to see it safe,” Adams said. “With times changing as drastically as they are and people getting so mean, we felt like this was the best thing.”
The announcement was made on Oct. 2 in a Facebook post one day after the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
The shooting was the “icing on the cake” for Adams who had already been concerned about violent incidents that had happened locally.
Those who follow the family’s Facebook page expressed shock and disappointment over the news.
“I hate to hear this news. We have been coming out there since the very beginning, and we would come several times just to see everything and take it all in,” wrote Meredith Brunson, of Wagram. “It’s ashamed this world is becoming so violent that people don’t feel safe anymore, anywhere they go! Thanks for all the memories you have brought to me and my family over the years!”
The announcement had been shared 70,352 time within 24 hours after it was posted.
Adams was also concerned with the possibility that the family could be robbed by unscrupulous people who believed that large amounts of money would be on hand at the end of each night. The family experienced a couple of incidents last year where they felt threatened when vehicles came through late at night refusing to roll down their windows and interact with anyone.
The fact that the family had been verbally abused and even cursed out by visitors complaining about the decorations and the wait in recent years, also played into decision.
“They have come through at times telling us we shouldn’t have this or we should have that or mad because they had to wait,” Adams said. “You never know who is waiting in line, and they could get mad and pull out a gun. You just don’t know.”
The event had grown over the past 11 years from neighbors in Marlboro County driving by the home to look at a few lights and lawn ornaments to over 90,000 people who had come from as far away as Wilmington, Myrtle Beach, Florence and Charlotte to drive through the property.
The front and back yards of the little home on Family Farm Road were transformed into a winter wonderland. Each year beginning in October the Adamses worked for six weeks to be able to open the exhibit by Thanksgiving.
The show boasted 100 pieces of lighted wire sculptures like reindeer, trees and angels and over 200 inflatables like snow globes, Santa Clauses and Nativities spread over the one plus acres. Visitors were encouraged to take their time and drive around the horseshoe driveway slowly with windows down to properly enjoy the presentation and listen to Christmas songs playing throughout.
Adams was so dedicated to the display that the home had two electric meters on it to accommodate the extra electrical draw.
A sense of nostalgia and happy family memories are what caused Adams to begin the exhibit 12 years ago. He had fond memories of visiting a Christmas display in Hartsville with his parents as a child.
“I did it because I love this community, and I wanted to be able to help other people make memories. I never dreamed we’d reach 90,000 people,” he said.
Because of the project, Adams has been blessed with as many fond memories as he has helped others make. People have talked to Adams and shared their experiences and the happy memories the family has helped them make.
One family’s experience still gives Adams chill bumps when he recalls it.
A young woman who is a waitress at the Chinese Restaurant in Bennettsville told Adams that she brought her non-verbal-autistic son who has social anxiety to see the exhibit.
“The first time she took him he kicked and screamed while she was putting him in the car, but when they got here he kind of lit up and enjoyed it,” Adams said. “The next time she told him they were going to see the lights he ran and got in the car. As they were going through, she talked to him the whole time telling him to see the lights and asking weren’t they pretty. He looked at her and said, ‘It’s pretty.’ That was the first words he ever said to her.”
Not only has Adams helped families make joyful memories, he has spread joy by using the display to give back to the community. The site has been home to a canned good drive and has raised money for charities. Last year the family raised over $1,100 for the town of Nichols to help recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.
Adams expressed gratitude for the love and support the family has received from the community throughout the years.
“We will greatly miss doing it. We appreciate the support in the past from all the people who have come out,” Adams said. “But as much as I love it and love the community I have to let it go.”
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169