Halls undecked in isolated mischief

Weeks of dedicated hours and an impressive accumulation of lights and decorations are displayed at the Golis family’s Ocean View residence every holiday season. But this year, for the first time in their 20-year tradition, the twinkling exhibition became the target of some decidedly discourteous mischief.
Coastal Point • RYAN SAXTON: Donald Golis stands with some of the decorations that were vandalized in his yard.Coastal Point • RYAN SAXTON:
Donald Golis stands with some of the decorations that were vandalized in his yard.

Donald Golis and his wife of 54 years, Pat, say they have no idea who would do such a thing.

“I don’t know if it was someone who came by in their car and did the damage, or if it was someone around here,” said Pat Golis. “I’m sure it wasn’t anyone in this neighborhood. We have lovely neighbors.”

“At first, I thought it might have been an animal that came by and knocked some things over,” she said. Her suspicion changed, though, after surveying more of the damage that was left last Friday morning.

Strings of lights had been yanked from trees in the yard. Other holiday decorations, including flags and a pricy collection of white-lighted, animated reindeer pulling a waving Santa in a sleigh, were tampered with. Inflatable decorations, such as a family of snowmen and a holiday carousel, that run on electric fans, seemed to escape unscathed.

Nothing was taken, said Pat Golis, and the only casualty appeared to be a large plastic candy cane crushed on the road in front of the house.

“That’s awful,” said neighbor Owen Egeberg, who noticed the damage Friday. “I’d like to have seen who it was. It’s awful, all that hard work [destroyed].”

“I’ll try to set everything back up this afternoon,” said Donald Golis, who was discouraged to see his decorations dismantled.

“We do this every year for Christmas,” said Pat Golis. “Parents bring the kids around and they always seem to enjoy it.” Two years ago, a bus even brought onlookers to the Yuletide spectacle. “It feels really good to have people come out here and tell us they truly appreciate everything.”

Donald Golis starts on the decorations every year around the end of November, while his wife directs him and offers her input.

“I had the lights on the roof done before Thanksgiving,” he said. The preparation really picked up as December approached. “It took me a day to [line lights on] the garage,” he added. “A lot of the decorations are banded down for stability.” He said he even used fishing poles to cast supporting cables through elevated tree limbs.

Around 5 p.m. each evening, Donald Golis flips some switches and presses some buttons and brings his front yard to life, triggering the lights and electric fans. They are left on until 9 or 9:30 p.m. on weekdays, said Pat Golis, and usually until 11 p.m. on weekends.

“Whoever [damaged the display] must have done it after all the lights were out,” said Pat Golis.

“It costs a lot of money to buy a lot of these things, like the lights and the blow-ups,” she noted, “and I think people should know about it, so they can keep an eye out in case someone goes and tries to vandalize someone else.”

The incident was reported to the police, but Pat Golis said she was told by officials that the mischief-maker would probably not be found.

The couple was right inside their home when the vandalism occurred. “We didn’t hear anything,” said Pat Golis. “We always had parked our cars over in the woods so people could see the decorations. Someone might have thought we weren’t home.” She said that now they plan on keeping their cars in the driveway.

“We haven’t had too much going on around the holidays,” said Ocean View Chief of Police Ken McLaughlin. “It’s been pretty quiet in the area. We run a tight patrol on Ocean View. When people see us out there, I think they can tell that we keep a close eye on things.”

McLaughlin commented that even in the past few years, there have been significantly few reports of vandalism. “We have a really low burglary rate, too.”

He added that the occurrence at the Golis home is likely an isolated attack.

Chief of Police Mike Redmon of Bethany Beach said that the town has been fortunate with very few complaints and reports of decoration disruption. “We run a pro-active patrol in the area. We have patrols that keep a watch on everything.”

Chief Scott Collins with Selbyville said that he can’t complain with the minimal calls that come in there. “We have a pretty good Neighborhood Watch program. There has only ever been one report for theft of Christmas lights in the past that I can remember,” said Collins. “We made it through Halloween this year without problems, too. It’s been pretty tame, so we must be doing something right.”