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Keeping the lights on: Marionville, Mo. family’s Christmas light show goes on despite theft

Published: Nov. 29, 2020 at 9:12 PM CST
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MARIONVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - It’s the time of year for holiday light shows once again, something many have been looking forward to for a while in the midst of drawn-out pandemic.

One light show in Marionville has become almost a sort of staple for many living in the area, and even others who travel just to check it out.

“It’s just a good time for families to sit out in their car kind of reminisce for a little bit,” Bob Duda said, who puts on the show every year.

After Duda’s centerpiece tree came down in a storm this year, his light controller was stolen Friday. He wasn’t sure whether he would be able to pull off the annual event this time around.

“Almost didn’t do it this year and that would have been a mistake,” he said.

What once started as a man simply lighting a large tree in his yard has now become a tradition for many.

“We try to make a night out of going up and seeing his show,” Misty Clark said.

Many said they have been eagerly awaiting this show.

“The Duda’s lights are a favorite tradition of ours, and with so many other things that are having to change due to COVID and social distancing, this is one thing that wouldn’t change,” Valerie Hopkins said.

Several regular attendees were disappointed to hear about the stolen equipment.

“I believe that being able to go see the beautiful display at the Duda house is more important this year since you don’t even have to get out of your car to enjoy it,” Missy Essary said. “I hated to hear that someone had stolen some of the lights as they didn’t just steal from the Duda’s they stole from all of us.”

”When I saw what happened my heart just sunk,” Clark said. “I was just like, ‘Really?’ In this day and time, we don’t need more of that. We need more of the good stuff.”

Several offered to help, including the police officer who filed the report of the stolen equipment.

”He said, ‘if it’s something I could go buy you right now, I’d do it myself,’” Duda said. “He said ‘the holidays are not exactly a bright and shiny time for me, but the one thing that is for me is your display.’”

Neighbors were hoping the light show could help brighten a long and tough 2020 as it did when the pandemic first started. Duda put up his lights in April to inspire hope.

”Anything we can do to pick one another up, that’s what everybody needs,” Clark said. “All of us you know could use a good dose of that this year.”

After hearing just how much his lights meant to so many, Duda said he felt the show must go on.

”It definitely re-lit something in me and got me back on track,” he said. “Who thought we’d still be in this in the month of December. Most of us thought after a few weeks of quarantine we’d be set and ready to go.”

Duda said he is going to make sure the show continues, despite the few bumps in the road. He said holiday lights have been a passion of his for several years, something he said he got from his mother, who passed away 10 years ago.

”It’s just who I am, and what I like to share and a platform that I say I was given, and it’s what I use,” he said.

Duda said he plans to get the show up and running soon, which will eventually run throughout December up until New Year’s Eve.

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