Carole Ray of Sycamore and Tammy Pate, who has worked for Ray for eight years, have been creating a wonderland of uniquely decorated artificial Christmas trees throughout the inside of Ray’s home for several years.
Originally from Sycamore, Ray graduated from the then-Tifton High School and moved to Atlanta, where she remained for over 30 years before moving back to her hometown in 2004. Pate started working for her that same year.
Ray stated, “I consider her my good friend.”
She and Pate began putting up only a few trees and then over the years, the number grew.
Just last year, Ray decided for the first time to have an open house for people to come into her home to view the Christmas trees. She wants to do the same thing this year from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20. Her home is located at 400 Ga. Highway 32 in Sycamore. She also plans to have a Santa Claus on her front porch for children.
“People can tour as long as they want to,” Ray said.
She noted that visitors must bring a canned food item or a new, unwrapped toy, which she plans to donate to less fortunate families in the community.
Ray stated that many people visited her home last year to see the trees. This year, she has approximately 65 decorated artificial trees of all shapes and sizes, which is the most she has ever had, and she plans on putting up more by Thursday. She said this has been the hardest year getting the trees up because she’s also busy with working on opening up a local drug store in Tifton — Tifton Drugs. She hopes to have it open by the end of this month.
When entering Ray’s home, bright and colorful trees with a different theme are seen throughout. She has a red, white and blue tree, owl trees, Annalee tree with Annalee collectibles that she has been collecting for four years, frog trees, Charlie Brown tree, elf tree, Santa tree, penguin tree, diva tree, silver tree, peacock tree, Georgia Bulldog trees, Elvis/Harley-Davidson tree, upside down mermaid tree (mounted to the ceiling and floor), an antique tree from the 1950s with a color wheel (the first artificial tree that was introduced during that time), country tree and many others. She even has a small tree in her shower. Also, a tree was built coming out of the top of her puppy’s doghouse.
Ray stated that wherever she can find an empty space, she puts up a tree.
She said the Annalee tree is her favorite. Pate stated that the owl trees and the upside down mermaid tree are her favorites.
Ray stated that Pate does most of the decorating for her. She gives her an idea of what she’s looking for, but Pate has become confident enough to do it on her own. One specific tree that Ray asked Pate to decorate from a photo that she saw in a catalog has become a favorite of many people who have seen the trees.
Ray said the Christmas trees are decorated differently every year with items she purchases from various stores, such as Dollar General, Big Lots, Pier 1 Imports, Walmart, Kohl’s and many other places. She stated that she keeps her Annalee and frog trees the same each year.
Pate stated, “She sees it, she buys it.” From there, Ray says, a theme for a tree is born.
They both stated that it’s something that they enjoy doing.
“There’s nothing like starting something and finishing it and saying, ‘that looks good,’” Pate said, glancing at one of the trees.
Ray said she started putting up some of the trees in early October. She and Pate decorated them with a fall theme for Thanksgiving. She noted that she has a workroom in her home and the trees are stored in a huge barn on her property. Ray said her 6-year-old granddaughter may have the “decorating bug” because she picked out two trees and decorations to take home to put in her bedroom (she decorated the trees on her own).
Ray said the lights on the Christmas trees are left on all day.
She stated, “It’s so calming when I lie in bed and see nothing but lights.”
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.