One man’s vision to brighten the holiday season for students at was fully illuminated on Friday.
The school’s students, teachers, staff and parents came together to celebrate Manetuck’s first holiday lights display and tree lighting in the courtyard between the building’s cafeteria and gymnasium.
The display, was the handiwork of custodian Bill Skinner, who according to Manetuck Principal Mary Anderson, first discussed the idea with her one year ago.
“He took this further than I thought he would take it,” Anderson said. “It’s wonderful for the kids and I absolutely love it.”
Those who attended the ceremony Friday marveled at Skinner’s work in creating likenesses of dozens of popular children’s characters made from plywood ranging from Spongebob to the Peanuts gang, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. In addition, several holiday blowups were placed on the school’s roof.
However, Skinner was humble in accepting accolades.
“It’s just that time of year and I wanted to do it for the kids,” he said. “I started doing it as a hobby and it just took off from there. I never expected it to get this large.”
Skinner noted that in designing the characters included in the display, he received some guidance from Cynthia LaPrarie, a second grade teacher at Manetuck. She creates similar characters at home for her family’s holiday display.
“She gave me the insight and once I started, I got lost in the moment,” Skinner added.
Anderson noted that Skinner set up the entire display at Manetuck and did so on his own time. “He took a personal day [Friday] to make sure this was ready to go,” she said.
To add to the excitement of the evening, Santa Claus was also on hand thanks to the efforts of the .