Traditional light show returns to Halcottsville

By Joe Moskowitz
One of the area’s greatest holiday traditions has returned. Once again Gordy Stahl is lighting up the old family farm in Halcottsville.

It’s not a really old tradition. Gordy says he has been doing it for about eight or nine years, but its roots go back to the early 1930s when his parents, Mel and Malvina Stahl, purchased the farm. Gordy said they had lost everything during the depression, but with their last three dollars, rebuilt their lives, eventually buying the small dairy farm on Old River Road.

Mel Stahl never had a tractor, or a hay baler, instead using two horses and plowing the soil by hand. He never had more than 18 cows and during some summers, he couldn’t milk more than seven. Gordy says looking back, he doesn’t know how they made it. But make it they did and during evenings, starting with Thanksgiving, the hilly little farm that Mel Stahl and his two horses worked so hard comes alive with a dazzling display of decorations. Without question, the most spectacular in the area.

Twenty-eight thousand lights. Forty-four hundred feet of lead cord. Ninety displays. And doing things the way his mom and dad would have done it. All but 10 of them hand made by Gordy from saplings on the farm. Gordy, a retired New York State Electric and Gas Company lineman knows how to do the work, but still has to pay the bill. He says it takes 60 amps to run the system and raises his electric bill by $250 to $300 for a month. Wind an ice can also take their toll. And he says if a snowstorm is forecast, he takes them down.

Gordy says he started doing it for his grandchildren. Last year he decided to take a break, but the urging of his grandchildren this year restarted the tradition. He says many people missed it last year. “Some people wanted to know if I was sick, or died,” he said.