Hardin Valley community helps restore beloved fall display
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – After a popular holiday display was destroyed, the Hardin Valley community rallied to replenish the missing and damaged items, making it even bigger than before. For the past 16 years, the Ellison family have built a display stand outside their home on the corner of Elm Grove Lane and Hardin Valley Road. They create one for fall and winter.
It is a family tradition. “My wife, my daughter, my son and I, we always just, you know, put something together and it got a little bigger every year than we did,” said Chris Ellison.
Ellison said they put a lot of work into their display. They start growing their own pumpkins and squash in the summer. At least 90% of the arrangement is local. It only takes a few days to assemble the screen, but some parts take several hours to create. “The horses were about 30 hours each. So, it was a long, drawn out process, but they’re made from corn stalks, ”Ellison said.
But, a few nights ago, the elaborate arrangement was destroyed. “My daughter noticed through her window that there were people storing our pumpkins in their car. So when we missed, we realized they had been doing it for a while, ”Ellison said.
Ellison said whoever belonged to the group grabbed around 25 pumpkins but left the largest one, which weighed around 200 pounds. He posted information about the vandalism on social media and debated with his family whether they wanted to keep the display. However, his post garnered a lot of attention from members of the community and he quickly learned that the posting meant so much more to his neighbors, like Penny Wilkinson.
“We love to see him every year. I think it’s a special part of the community and I was very sad to hear that someone had vandalized and destroyed it, ”Wilkinson said. Wilkinson came up with the idea, if everyone in Hardin Valley brought only a pumpkin or decoration, the display would be like new.
She said it was an easy fix that anyone could help. “Our housing is broken down, housing is expensive. There is a lot of madness. But something like that is just an easy fix, ”Wilkinson said.
She and her family, including her son Sawyer, helped choose which items to display. “Yeah I did. We just went to Food City and picked up (a pumpkin),” Sawyer said.
Several businesses in the region also contributed. To them, the Ellison family is more than just customers. Hardin Valley is also their home, and the Ellisons are their neighbors. Denise Douglas, owner of the Hardin Valley UPS store, said she saw the message and knew she needed to help. They even found a way to support the family locally.
“We bought our stuff here locally. And so I walked in and we bought pumpkins and we bought moms because we knew some of the moms were a little bit fulfilled and we were like, “Oh, they’re gonna have to have moms,” Douglas said. .
Douglas said the growing community was like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The original display was born, but through negativity, positivity shines through. Even new companies have sprung up, like HOTWORX, which has only been in the area for about a year.
“La Vallée is really proud of its community. And so, the first thing I thought was we had to rebuild this. And I’m so happy that everyone has come together to do it, ”said Kim Betts, Managing Director of Hardin Valley HORWORX.
Betts said she was disgusted with the whole issue and that she thought it was devastating. “We just went out and got some moms and some pumpkins and went over there. Mr. Ellison was there, we talked with him for about 20 minutes, and it was so nice to help.
UPS Store, HOTWORX, Edler’s Ace Hardware, and Food City are just a few of the companies that have helped. This does not include individual families who also lent a hand to add more decorations. Ellison had no idea the display was the beloved one in the community. He said he and his family took the setup for granted, but now they enjoy it even more.
He said the outpouring of support was incredible. “Just gives you chills to sit here and think you know the community really likes it and you know it’s a wait, she’s one that I guess has already raised the bars for the next year.”
Ellison said he reported the vandalism to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. He said he had surveillance video.
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