Fayette County

Famous Chinoe Christmas house moves light display

For years, Ron Turner was known as the man who put thousands of Christmas lights up at his big white house on Chinoe Road in south Lexington.

The house was often a destination spot for motorists looking at light displays, sometimes in great enough numbers to cause traffic jams.

This year, for the second holiday season in a row, the display isn't on Chinoe. But it's not far away.

Turner, an entrepreneur and real estate developer, has moved the lights to his Signature Club, 3256 Lansdowne Drive. A large model Santa Claus, complete with sleigh and reindeer, also made the journey.

Turner said this year marks the 28th year he's had an outsize light display (he had lights on his house on Lakeshore Drive for a decade before moving into the Chinoe house).

"Somebody asked me the other day, 'Are you going to put up all those lights, the way the economy is?'" Turner said last week. "I said, 'It's about the spirit of Christmas, it's not about the economy.'"

The Signature Club is a better location for the display because it is on a wider street, and there's a parking lot.

On Chinoe Drive, Turner said, he worried every year about safety, especially when cars would stop and children would hop out and dash across the street.

Now, on Lansdowne, a few school buses, loaded with children, take a spin through the parking lot on their way to schools in the morning, said Robert Snell, the Signature Club's property manager and main light hanger.

The year in which there almost were no lights was two Christmases ago. Turner was badly injured in a plane crash in Tennessee in September 2007.

He was thinking of not putting up the display that year. Then he ran into a boy of about 6 or 7 who asked a question that changed his mind.

"He asked me if Santa Claus got killed in the plane crash," Turner said. "He said, 'I understand Santa lives in your house.' That's why I lit up the house."

Turner has moved to a house in Frankfort that has more room for his 10 grandchildren. Last year, a sign was put up on Chinoe telling passersby that the display had moved.

Other traditions moved from the Chinoe house, including a day for the Salvation Army to bring by needy children for pizza, presents and a visit from Santa, said Troy Turner, Ron's son. The Signature Club also is serving as a drop-off point for God's Pantry Food Bank, he said.

Ron Turner has fond memories of the years on Chinoe. Sometimes there were visits by children such as Jarrett Mynear, who was famous for starting his "Joy Cart" to provide presents for other children who, like him, were fighting disease. Jarrett died in 2002 after spending 11 of his 13 years fighting cancer.

"I will always remember the times we had there with so many children," Turner said. "God cannot give me a greater gift than that."