NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — This year feels as if it's lasted decades, but we are down to the final seven weeks of 2020.
With the holidays right around the corner, one high schooler is trying to brighten up the year while helping those in need. If you're driving down Bernie Trail in Nicholasville, it's hard to miss the Nielson home.
Already lined with decorations and Christmas lights, it will soon transform into Wild Lights.
"There's definitely over a thousand lights here," said Zachary Nielson. "We have over a hundred extension cords. It's all about cord management of what you have to do to get power to each prop and just make it all neat and tidy."
The 30-minute show set to holiday music is the brainchild and labor of 14-year-old Zachary.
"It takes me all year to program and I've been doing it for about four years," said Nielson.
For four years, the electric enthusiast has used his wiring hobby to light up the home around Christmas time.
"The show's about thirty minutes long, but it's just a way to help lift people's spirits, especially during this time now. It's a way to help people get them in the Christmas spirit and make them a lot happier," said Nielson.
With so many visitors, he wanted to find a way to help the needy. So he also collects donations for Porter Memorial Baptist Church's "Packin' the Pantry" program, based in nearby Lexington.
"We're just tickled that we came to mind because we're totally dependent on these type of donations to buy food," said Erika Clark, who helps run the program.
Before the pandemic, Clark says the pantry helped around 70 families a month. Right now, it's 70 families a week.
"People who used to contribute to the pantry are now in the line receiving from the pantry. And it's just a hard time for everyone, not just COVID, but the economic fallout that comes from that," said Clark.
As the temperatures get colder, utility bills go up and times will get harder.
"So we struggle every week for meat. We struggle every week for vegetables. We struggle every week for canned goods. It's an every week struggle to gather enough food to meet the demand," said Clark.
For organizations that rely on hard-working volunteers and donations, Clark says efforts from people like Zachary go a long way. The teen is hoping his expanded display will inspire donations and provide a safe, mental escape to the North Pole.
"It's just a great way to get families out together and watching something together," said Nielson.
The display lights up the day after Thanksgiving, November 27.
If you'd like to stop by for the light show, the address is 112 Bernie Trail in Nicholasville. You can then follow the music along on 88.5 FM. There's more information on the Wild Lights KY Facebook page.
If you'd like to make donations to Packin' the Pantry, you can contact Erika Clark at 859-489-4557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.