COMSTOCK, Neb.- During the holiday season, the Christmas light display in Comstock draws visitors from miles around.
Comstock is a town of about 110 people, according to the population sign. But, the town's size might be closer to 60, according to people who live there.
Either way, at Christmas time, you might need to be careful crossing the street, as cars filled with people come to main street to see the growing Comstock light display. It all started about 4 years ago at the home of Henry Nuxoll. "I wanted to put up Christmas light to impress my twin brother who passed away, and I knew he could see it from heaven," Nuxoll said. "And I had a 15-month-old granddaughter who probably couldn't remember it, so that was my sole objective. I didn't want to impress anyone else but those two."
But then, donations just kept coming. For example, an inflatable Santa Claus and reindeer appeared at the post office. "I trudged up my roof, and I put them up there, and then the next thing you know a garbage bag shows up behind my house with two dachshunds and an inflatable snowman," Nuxoll said. "Then over a period of 30 days, some anonymous person dropped off garbage bags with new LED lights and inflatables, and like an idiot I just kept putting them up."
And now, the town of Comstock features 12 blocks of Christmas lights on display. Henry stores the lights at an old gas station throughout the year, which is called "Santa's Workshop". He gets them out at Christmas, but he doesn't do all the work alone. "I have to do a lot of the thinking and the planning and the night-time work, but I've got some good help," Nuxoll said. There are fundraisers held to cover the electric bill, which might run around $2,500. But making the town festive is well worth it.
"Retail-wise Comstock has got a pop machine and a Schwan's guy every Tuesday," Nuxoll said. "Once upon a time, we had 60 legitimate businesses here. Banks, grocery stores, a newspaper office, a model T dealership that sold 25 model T's a month. But now those businesses don't exist anymore, and there's a lot of empty lots on main street. What I do is I bring light to those spots and I categorize each scene." Those scenes have themes like "All I want for Christmas", or "Into the Woods" featuring inflatable animals. "Right next to the real fire department, we've got a North Pole rural fire district truck and a Minnon fire guy," Nuxoll said.
At the old west scene, a potentially familiar piece of Grand Island history can be found. "In each scene, I like to bring an old antique relic, a car, a pickup, or a bus to use as a windbreak for the inflatables, because they have a tough time standing in the wind," Nuxoll said. "One of those relics at the Old West scene is the very original Conestoga Mall wagon train sign."
For visitors, the lights are enchanting. Henry Nuxoll says a few thousand people will experience the lights before it's all said and done this year. And with continued donations, it's likely that this light display will continue to grow, and make visitors smile for years to come.