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Gilley Christmas lights In Ball Play will be dark this year

Gilley lights 2013

Gilley Christmas lights from seven years ago are seen in this streetside image.

The iconic Christmas light display at the Gilley residence in Ball Play which have delighted yuletide visitors for more than 30 years will be dark this year.

Cindy Gilley said by phone Tuesday that the display has fallen victim to COVID-19.

“My husband has coronavirus and I do too,” Gilley said, referring to her husband, Mike, who is in the hospital battling the virus.

The display was started in the 1980s by the late J.C. Gilley with help from his sons Mike and Donnie Gilley who have kept the lights twinkling year after year — ever since J.C. died in the early 2000s.

The late Gilley made the animated displays by hand according to Gilley.

“They are all handmade, they are unusual, you might see a lot of lights somewhere else but you're not going to see a 20 foot dinosaur that head moves, and tail moves an elephant that moves, an alligator, he made it all by hand with different things he had on the farm, he was a recycler I guess,” Cindy Gilley said of J.C. Gilley.

It’s very unusual if you’ve never seen it before,” Gilley said.

Besides COVID-19 other health problems have beset the family this year.

“My husband has had some heart problems this year and his brother Donnie has had some health problems and Donnie’s wife has had some health problems, so we’ve had health problems everywhere,” Gilley said.

Gilley said her husband’s condition is improving.

“He is in the hospital but he’s doing much better, everyday he gets better and better,” Gilley said. “Hopefully next year we can do [the lights] again,” said Gilley.

Here’s the light show’s Facebook page offering sample scenes: