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Articles & Local History > 2007 - Christmas in the Country with Gary & Joan Johnson

Gary & Joan Johnson's Christmas display 2007

Johnson House
Johnson Christmas Display @ 1720 Matznick Rd., Tampico, IL. Click on photo to open the album. Then click on individual photos to open, enlarge, read details or leave a comment.

The Johnsons continue their 42-year tradition by providing a beautiful and festive Christmas display. It is a delicious eye-candy for any age. It echoes a bygone era - the earlier years of Christmas in the Country, when busses of people would travel from all over to drive through Tampico to see the lights. The Egert family was well known for their grand display each year. You can still find post cards of their displays or old brochures with a map to each home.


 Joan says she helps Gary with what she is able, but it is his project and he does most of the work himself.


This year, Gary finished harvest earlier than ever before which allowed him to start pulling out the displays sooner. Even so, it is an enormous undertaking to have it ready for their first official lighting on Thanksgiving night. The week before Thanksgiving, the neighborhood boys come over to help set up the luminaries and heavier displays.


If you are traveling south on Matznick Road, you will see the outline of the lighted roof top twinkling through the branches long before you reach their drive way.


A “Welcome” sign announces the entrance to the illuminated drive, which is about a quarter of mile long. Hundreds of luminaries light the path


The soldiers that line the drive were purchased many years ago from the old Belscot store. When the Archie Greer family moved from Tampico, Gary purchased all of their decorations. Every year he tries to add something new, at least until he runs out of extension cords! Currently, there are over 200 cords.

Young and old will delight in seeing Santa’s, snowmen, two nativities, soldiers, trains and an array of lighted scenes. If you look closely, you will find kitties (real ones!) nestled in an outdoor pot that has been decorated and lighted. More lights continue to outline the horseshoe drive and as you round-the-bend,  you may feel you have stepped right into a story book and perhaps, just for a moment,  you’ll feel like a kid again.


The Johnsons welcome and encourage all to drive through, stop and take pictures and take a trip down memory lane at 1720 Matznick Road, Tampico, IL. The lights are on Fri., Sat. & Sunday, dusk to 10 p.m.,  and on Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and New Year’s Eve.


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