In an unassuming pocket of West Side Possum Kingdom Lake, millions of tiny lights combine to form an impressive beacon during the holiday season -- and mainly they light up cartoons.
What most would see in the big city or in a large neighborhood, many can see just 15 miles south of Graham at Possum Hollow. In its 25th year, Possum Hollow will display nearly 1 million LED lights, some of which are synched to music transmitting from 88.9 FM. Interspersed throughout this lighted spectacle is a magical display of cartoon character favorites.
It all started when Jim and Tracy Bittle made visits to Midwestern State University 25 years ago.
“We used to take our daughter and friends to a light display at MSU,” Jim said. “(It got to where) we couldn’t get away at Christmas. So we started with four to five Charlie Brown and Mickey Mouse cutouts and some lights. Every year, we just added to it. We just added more lights and more stuff.”
With each new holiday season, the display became increasingly involved.
Lights dangled from every tree to every cabin and around every cartoon character, the first of which had been traced onto a piece of plywood and painted by Jim and his family.
Since that first cutout and light display, characters and lighting continue to be added to Possum Hollow. And so grows the number of people creating the display each year.
Owner Mike McNally and his daughter Tracy, son-in-law, Jim, granddaughter, Julie, his great-granddaughter and Jim’s brother, Jerry Bittle, have been upholding the tradition ever since. They would start decorating Nov. 1 and be done the day after Thanksgiving.
The operation continued smoothly, growing in momentum for over two decades. But in 2011, the PK Wildfires that raged through West Side Possum Kingdom Lake almost killed their beloved tradition.
A three-bedroom home and barn, containing many of the strands of lights, extension cords and wooden cutouts, all stored until Christmas, was destroyed as it violently burned in the fire.