From twinkling lights to iconic vacation imagery, the Jay McMurrans Rockwood Residence, 23553 W. Ditner Drive, is a tribute to his love for Christmas and the satisfaction he receives from making others smile.
His daughter, Marisa Monroe, 43, of Wyandotte, said her father was a true Clark Griswold, whose greatest joy comes from visitors who pass by his house to revel in its lights.
He became obsessed with sharing his love of the season with others, she said. He has successfully battled esophageal cancer twice and a long list of complications. His best medicine? Planning her Christmas display!
Monroe said her father didn’t decorate the yard for other holidays, just for Christmas, and he started doing it when she was a child.
Every year I think it got a little more extreme, she said. And now I think we’ve reached the pinnacle.
Monroe said her parents had lived in Rockwood for 23 years. Prior to that, they lived in Flat Rock for 19 years, and briefly in Southgate, when they first married, where her garden shows began.
He has enthusiasm and he loves when passers-by are enjoying his work, she said. He loves it when cars slow down, and often people stop and thank him for his display and tell him that he has spread joy, and they look forward to his house display every year.
McMurran said that a few years ago, as he was setting up his screen, a woman passing by stopped to thank him.
She said, I have depression, and when I feel without a mind, I get in the car and walk past, and it makes me feel good, he said.
McMurran said this year, as he completed the installation, a team of recycling trucks stopped to take photos and enjoyed the exhibit.
Monroe said as she and her brothers, Nathan McMurran, 45, of Flat Rock, and Sam McMurran, 29, of Woodhaven, were growing up, their dad imbued them with holiday cheer, and he’s spreading that in their houses too, now that they are adults.
Jay McMurran, 66, said as a child he remembered seeing a wonderfully decorated house in Allen Park on Dasher Avenue.
He built this little hut, where he played Santa Claus, and his house was all decorated, and they gave you cookies and hot chocolate, he said. It just inspired me, because you saw these people, and they were so happy.
McMurran admitted that he never went so far as to represent Santa, but he still loves people stopping by to see his display.
He admits his DTE bill skyrockets when his holiday lights are on, and during the off-season his garage will only hold one of their vehicles, as the rest is used to store his holiday decorations.
Monroe said her father also stored Christmas decorations in the rafters in the garage, but everything was well organized.
He said he started installing the decorations a few weeks before Thanksgiving, when the weather was still relatively warm, and spent about 10 days on the installation, but the planning and preparations started long before that. .
McMurran is now retired, having worked as a union staff representative for McLouth Steel, so he has time to pursue his passion.
Monroe said she would help him sometimes when he’s on the roof, turning on lights, but otherwise, he creates most of the display himself.
McMurran said that this year he has developed a theme, Christmas in Hollywood, and pays homage to Ralphie from A Christmas Story, and has the infamous Lady’s Leg Lamp and three-dog flagpole licking storyline.
I bought mannequins and dressed them up like Swartz and Flick with the pole, he said. Next, we have Clark Griswald hanging from the gutter.
McMurran said that when his neighbor came home from work and saw Griswald hanging from the gutter and the party ladder, he was horrified for a moment that McMurran was clutching the gutter.
He had stopped and was going to come and help, then he realized, he said.
Even with the secular humor of his display, McMurran said that a Christmas crib scene is still the focus of his display, with the Christmas star shining on the front wall of his house.
We remember the reason for the season, he said.
Monroe said that while her dad was overkill with his decorations, he was overdoing other aspects of Christmas as well.
You never go through a nursery without dad speaking to us, she said. And it’s always the first thing that comes up for the Christmas display.
McMurran said that even when battling esophageal cancer, he continued his decorating tradition, and it reminded him of what was important to him.
It’s not giving and receiving, it’s being with the people you love and being able to share what you have with other people, he said.
Monroe said the next generation of the family, her daughters of brother Nathans, Bella McMurran, 20, and Joanna McMurran, 21, and Joannas’ son Marshall, 4, of Flat Rock, also appreciate the family tradition. .
Jay McMurran has said he could continue with the Christmas theme in Hollywood next year, but with changes to feature other iconic Christmas films.
His wife, Marian, 66, said she was happy to see her husband have something he is so passionate about.
He does a lot of trips to the store, but it’s okay, it makes him happy, she said.
About a week before Christmas, they take the tour to watch other peoples’ Christmas lights, along with a McDonalds eggnog milkshake as part of the ritual.
McMurran said Rockwood has an annual holiday decorating contest and, although he has never won first prize, he has come second and third in the past.
In our otherwise exhausting world, my dad gives so much and only hopes for a smile in return, Monroe said.
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