Traverse City Record-Eagle


December 24, 2013

Residents create Christmas alleys to celebrate holiday


McDonough has rental houses on either side of him, so he makes sure both are decorated. He was slow getting the lights up this year, and said he could sense the pressure as his neighbors kept offering to help or do it for him.

“It’s the way the alley is,” McDonough said. “We are really kind of taking care of each other.”

A few blocks away, neighbors credit Steve and Sherry Purkiss for sparking their alley’s display of lights, which began to shine about three or four years ago.

“Steve Purkiss is the brains behind the whole thing and it’s getting better every year,” said neighbor Phil Balyeay, who lives on Ninth Street between Oak and Maple streets. “He’ll do any of the decorating for the whole alley for owners who ask.”

Bud Schmeltzer switched his lights from the front of the house to the back about three years ago. He said Purkiss puts them up for him and takes them down in the spring.

“We get quite a few visitors,” Schmeltzer said. “They even come by the busloads.”

Each group of alley neighbors also celebrate with a holiday open house, and Linda Lichty said she went to meet the Purkisses at their open house on Sunday to cheer them on.

“It’s not a competition,” Lichty said. “It’s our gift to the community as a neighborhood, and it’s wonderful because it’s catching on.”



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