“The very first year of the yard decorations was 1997, when Dwayne Smith moved to Willet Way, and put up a few items in his front yard and lights on his house. I moved to the neighborhood in October of 1998, but didn’t decorate my yard that year. Dwayne’s display had grown a little, by that year. Also, 1998 was the first year that Santa Claus (Buddy Wilbanks, my father) visited us, and sat out to greet visitors and pose for pictures. Since then, the display has grown and grown, and now we decorate four yards, and yards and houses are decorated by many other neighbors who join in.
We have many, many blow-ups, and a lot of home-made decorations, such as the chapel and the carousel, over-sized wreaths, and angels, snowflakes and stars made from plastic clothes hangers. Other unique items include Santa and 9 reindeer flying through the sky, a penguin pond, several manger scenes, and two Christmas tree forests. We also have speakers in each yard, playing holiday music, to add to the Christmas spirit.
Santa has his special house, where, on certain nights, he sits in his red velvet chair, waiting to hear wish lists from children of all ages, and to pose for pictures. Until this year, that is. Because of the pandemic, we have a “Faux” Santa, where families can still take pictures and a mailbox for “Letters To Santa.” We hope that next year Santa will be able to visit in person, again.
There was a huge change in 2013, when Buddy Wilbanks passed away. Since then, the role of Santa Claus has been taken over by Jackie Cross.
Willet Way Wonderland is lit up nightly, from Thanksgiving night through Christmas night, weather permitting (rain and/or high winds prohibit lighting up), from around 6 pm until around 10 pm, depending on the traffic.”
If you happen to be in Americus and want to see something to put you in the Christmas spirit, Willet Way Wonderland is a “must see”.