NEWS- Lights out: Ruckersville show goes dark
When news got out that the "Ruckersville lights" wouldn't be up this year, something like a collective gasp could be heard around Charlottesville. After all, for the last eight years, the home on Matthews Mill Road (Rt. 607) was not just another stop on an annual light tour– it was a jaw-dropping holiday destination for families from all over the state.
James and Ginny Perkins live in the house, and Ginny has been the power behind the glittering trees, the blow-up characters in the yard, the Santa shed, and even the angel room. What made the Perkins house even more unusual: live musical performances and dinner served to every visitor on Friday and Saturday nights, all done on the Perkins' dime. (Donations were voluntary.) Perkins and her son-in-law typically spent upwards of three months getting ready to welcome the crowds.
This year the Perkinses have pulled the plug. But neither the hard work nor the considerable expense led to the cancellation.
"It's for health reasons with my husband," Perkins explains.
The news comes as a blow to many who look forward to a night of lights in Ruckersville.
"I was really sad to hear it wouldn't be happening," says Gerry Yemen, for whom the Ruckersville show had become "a tradition."
Yemen says she and a group of friends became "more sophisticated" every year they went.
"We'd head out to Ruckersville and stop at Sheetz for appetizers," she laughs. "You can't go to a light show without pork rinds and potato chips. We're a high class act."
Once there, Yemen says, they wandered the yard admiring the lights and meeting "all kinds of people."
But her favorite part was the angel room showcasing more than 200 angels from Perkins' collection. That collection grew every year as visitors sent her new angels, Perkins said. Yemen says she has also felt drawn to add to the collection.
"When I've been on trips in Canada and Sweden," she says, "I've looked for angels, hoping I could find one she doesn't have."
Yemen says she understands the burden such a production can be: she operated a haunted house at Halloween for 20 years. "But I finally stopped– it got to be too much," she says.
Despite her disappointment over this year's cancellation, Yemen says she's grateful for the work the Perkinses have put in over the years and hopes Perkins' husband's health will improve.
The mistress of ceremonies is also sad she won't have the lights on.
"I already miss it," Ginny Perkins says, "but hopefully it can be back next year."
The famed "angel room" won't be open this year.
FILE PHOTO BY GEORGE KAMIDE