SPRINGFIELD tWP.: The holidays will be brighter this year along Springfield Lake with a new selection of lighted displays.
A Nativity scene will stand beside a motorcycle-riding Santa.
Angels will flap their wings aside snowflakes.
Each piece of the new display joining the lighted-lakefront gazebo this year for the Holiday Lights on the Lake celebration tonight is the creation of Canton resident Todd Davis.
Davis, who has been building holiday displays for the city of Canton’s parks department for the past 12 years, had designed and created them for a Canton surgeon who decided to sell them after his children went off to college.
“I’ve been a Christmas nut my whole life. When I was 16, I started decorating my mom and dad’s house,” said Davis, 44.
Springfield Parks and Recreations director Doug Foltz learned the 14 displays were available and purchased them to make the holidays a bit merrier for township residents.
“I thought the lakefront was a great venue for the holiday season. Once we get the lights up, I see it growing,” Foltz said.
Not one to let the winter doldrums between January and March get him down, Davis, an employee in the Canton Parks Department, uses the time drawing up ideas for new displays to build for Stadium Park in Northwest Canton.
He frequently borrows ideas from pop culture, such as a corn hole playing snowman.
In Springfield, a 14 feet by 14 feet “Peace on Earth” sign may be the largest piece visitors to the lakefront will see, but a 7-foot-tall carousel with six moving horses may be the favorite of little ones.
“Optically, it looks like the horses are going up and down,” said Davis, who uses motors and controllers to create the display’s animation.
Perhaps his favorite of all the displays he has created is a 15 feet high and 150 feet long sea serpent named Nellie who sits next to a lake in Canton. Nellie has a twin created for Green’s city-center pond. When lit up at night, the serpents appear to be floating in the water, Davis said.
The township purchased the displays for $8,100, Foltz said.
Since he was hired in April, he is credited with creating a walking trail currently under construction near Schrop Intermediate School on Pickle Road. He hopes to have two new employees to handle park maintenance and expansion in place by the end of the year.
Residents will get their first opportunity to see the lighting displays at 7 tonight when Santa arrives on a Christmas train.
The township is accepting corporate and individual donations to eventually expand the display.
“I see it as a miniature Oglebay Park for all Summit County residents to enjoy,” Foltz said.
There are three levels for sponsorship: $100, $250 and $500. All donations will be used for current and future light displays.
To make a donation, make checks payable to Springfield Township Parks and mail it to 2491 Canfield Road, Akron, OH 44312.
For more information, contact Foltz at 330-733-2556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or email@example.com.