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March 20, 2013

‘Christmas Light Man’ Harold Swindle dies

A man well known for his elaborate Christmas light display in the Simcoe community will be laid to rest today.

Harold Swindle passed away Sunday at the Folsom Center after a battle with cancer. He was 89.

“He was a simple man,” said Gary Moss, an acquaintance of Swindle for roughly 20 years. “He had strong beliefs and had a lot of love for his family.”

The Swindles began decorating their home as an answer to their blind daughter’s wish for others to see the Christmas lights that she couldn’t see. For roughly 10 months out of the year, Swindle could be seen putting up and taking down over 300,000 lights, some of which he got into trees by using a slingshot. At times, the Swindle home, which was located on Alabama Highway 69, resembled a warehouse leading up to Thanksgiving night when traditional Christmas decorations are unveiled. Boxes, lights, snowmen, trees, stars, tinsel, Santas, and nativity scenes adorned the property.

“It was quite a sight to see,” said Moss. “You could see it glowing for miles. I remember the sheriff had to send deputies out to direct traffic one year because so many people had come to see them. It was just a beautiful sight.”

In 2005, Swindle gave thousands of his lights to good friends and neighbors H.D. and Joyce McGriff. Swindle was forced to end the 30-year-long display three years prior due to the failing health of his wife Ruby, who suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s.

In addition to being known as the Christmas light man, Swindle also served his country in the U.S. Army. Upon his honorable discharge, he returned to the Cullman area, settling in Simcoe. While working at All Steak restaurant, he also farmed and raised chickens and hogs at the site of his beloved Christmas light display.

Services celebrating his life will be at 2 p.m. today at Moss-Service Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Debbie Sullins officiating, with burial in Simcoe Baptist Cemetery. Visitation will be from noon until time of service.

Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at agraves@cullmantimes.com

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