Making a Difference: Piqua holiday lights a shining tradition for family

PIQUA — Beautiful lights and decorations become shining, proud symbols of tradition for many neighbors during the holiday season.

News Center 7’s James Brown found a Piqua father and son who never realized how their love of lights would wind up making a difference for thousands of strangers.

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To say that Alex Smith and his dad Richard have a lot of lights is an understatement.

It all started for the father-son duo when Alex was 12.

“He was like, ‘Dad can we put stuff in the yard?’” his father explained.

After that first Christmas, they kept putting up more and more lights at their Riverside Drive home.

“I never thought it would get this big,” Richard said.

With about 4,500 lights per tree and roughly 700 displays, the yard shines as bright as Broadway now.

“We buy more [lights] every year,” added Alex. “How many lights? We don’t really know.”

Though he’s 26 now, he loves it just as much as he did when he was 12.

“It’s just like being a kid again,” Alex said. “It keeps my childhood going.”

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But it also is part of other kids’ childhoods, from 4-year-old Amaya in Piqua to people from all over the country.

People visit the lights from Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan, Alex said.

“I think they are amazed how many lights we can fit in the yard,” he added.

Alex is so dedicated to the grand display that he even uses rebar and a torch to make his own one-of-a-kind displays, including one for his girlfriend at the time.

“I had to make her a penguin, because she loves penguins,” he said.

Five years ago, that girlfriend became his wife.

As much joy as the Smiths get from the display, it has become much more.

“It brings holiday cheer to everybody,” said Andrea Ross, of Piqua.

“We see residents from nursing homes come past,” Alex said. “That makes our day. That’s why we do it.”

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The Smiths’ Christmas spirit is making a difference.

Their love for lights is here for all to see.

“This is your little corner of the world,” said Richard. “Is there a better place to be found? In my eyes, no.”