DAKOTA CITY, Iowa — Last December Merlin Fort said he’d had enough. Thirty four years of a massive light show were enough, he was calling it quits.
Then he got some rest.
Now, for the 35th season, Fort along with help from friend Tim Greene.
“Well, I wasn’t going to do it, but you know,” said Fort. “You get to thinking about the thousands of people who showed up it’s really hard to quit.”
Fort left some of the larger displays standing in his yard over the summer, as he was uncertain about this year.
“I think will even have a bigger crowd than we did last year because everybody saw it on channel 13,” said Fort. “They’re all new people who came here and they all said they’d come back again.”
Fort has now turned 90 years old. He says he’s slowed down a bit.
“They might’ve been joking when they said that either quit the women, or quit the lights,” said Fort.
The Christmas light wizard of Dakota City lives alone, and has no family in the area. He said today he planned to drive up to the casino in Emmetsburg, something he does on a regular basis.
“Once the crowds start coming every night, I don’t dare be gone,” said Fort.
He’s been doing a lot of driving of late to Menard’s to find replacement bulbs for his light strands.
“Menards is the only store that handles the C7 bulbs, so I bought all the ones in Ames, Spencer, Mason City, and Fort Dodge,” said Fort.
As to if this is the last year for the lights, Fort is not really committed.
“We’ll have to wait to next year and see what happens,” said Fort.
“All good’s got to come to an end sometime,” said Tim Greene. “I think it would be a good time this year.”
‘Wouldn’t surprise me if I’m out here again next year,” said Fort.
The lights will be lit up a sunset through Christmas, starting on Thanksgiving Eve.