Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Our Neighborhood Christmas Project - Part I

The sign at the front of the street we live on reads, "No Outlet".

It is a long lane that travels down a sizable hill (for central Florida), around an elongated esplanade, and back up. 
This unique characteristic was a big factor in creating our neighborhood Christmas Story Project.
In December of 2013, I wrote a post about how the project first came about - you can Click here to read the background story.

The first of twenty-four wooden scrolls (4' x 6') of our neighborhood Christmas Story Project

The signs/scrolls grace the lawns of homes up and down our street for the entire month of December.  For a decade, we have pulled them from sheds and garages, cleaned them, touched up the paint, and tried to prolong their lives.

Time and the elements took their cumulative toll until they became too worn out to repair.

Remaking them this year was a huge undertaking, but like most ambitious projects, it was made easier, more enjoyable, and incredibly satisfying because of a loving group of family and friends.

The job took six weeks from start to finish and was financed by donations from nine families.
We photographed our progress and I think it is a story meant to be shared - in more ways than one.

This Part I will cover the construction and painting of the signs.  Tomorrow's Part II will include the photographs of all twenty-four finished signs.

Perhaps someone reading this will be inspired to do a similar project, or at the very least, will be inspired to pass along the Good News...

The project began with 24 - 4'x8' sheets of plywood,
125 - 1"x4"x8' boards, and a five gallon bucket of primer.
I arranged for the supplies delivered to our home. 
It was a challenge not to be overwhelmed by the scope
of the project when we saw this truck pull up.

The delivery man was kind enough to bring the supplies
up our driveway and place them under the carport.

I taped newsprint together and created a template from
one of the original scrolls then used a thick marker to trace
the pattern onto each of the 24 sheets of plywood.
Our granddaughter was a very big helper.

This jigsaw, a gift from my dad, is my new favorite tool. 
I absolutely enjoyed the process of cutting the wood.
My neighbor, Kim, had everything to do with it because
she sanded as I cut.

We made a good team.

Power tools proved too tempting for my son Louie.
He helped on his days off from the fire department.

And Kim kept sanding!

All the scrolls stacked and ready to paint.
Stephannie and Kim rolling along...
We lined our carport with sheets of plastic and began the priming process.
Working with half of the signs at a time, we primed, sanded, primed, and then
added two top coats of a beautiful parchment colored outdoor paint.
It was a tedious process, but we knew it would insure a longer life for the signs. 

The last dozen signs almost finished and ready to assemble.

My husband, Lou, designed and built sturdy stands
that we later attached to the backs of the scrolls.
Our neighbor Kent (not pictured) helped with this step, too.
We assembled all of the supports before attaching them to the scrolls.

Once the scrolls were all assembled, I used my document camera to
project the words and images onto the boards.  It was Kim's idea
to use paint pens to outline areas that needed painting.  This made it
easier to enlist more of our friends to help with the painting.
Here are some photographs of our neighbors and friends diligently working to complete the project ~

Kim applying the first bit of black paint. (We used One Shot.)
After all of the preparation, we were giddy to at last
begin adding the finishing details.
Stephannie lending her artistic touch.

My good friends, Kelley (above) and Cathy came for days
and their painting skills proved invaluable.

Cathy's husband Stan joined us for an afternoon, too.


Sindy P
Not pictured are Julianne and Karen, whose help was most appreciated.

The signs lined up and almost finished...

Tracing the very last letter on the very last scroll.

We began this project in the first week of November,
determined to finish by the first weekend in December. 
On the last evening, we worked well into the night to make that happen.

Tireless painters, Stephannie and Cathy, painting by lamplight.

The next morning, all the scrolls were lined up and ready to be displayed.

Our husbands loaded up the scrolls and placed in yards along the street.
Pictured above are Bob and Mark loading Louie's truck. 

This was a labor intensive project, but such a rewarding one.  We worked together to create something beautiful and memorable to tell the Christmas Story.

Tomorrow's post will feature individual photographs of each of our twenty-four scrolls - be sure to check back!


  1. What a wonderful way to share the most important piece of history of mankind. What an undertaking but with so much love. Great job to all the family and friends who made this happen.

  2. This is a lovely project. I see so many happy, smiling faces, that is wonderful!

    1. Thank you, Ria, we did have so much fun working together.

  3. What a great neighborhood to live in. You guys are so dedicated and talented too. Such a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. Can’t wait to see tomorrow,

    1. Thank you, Susan. I'll pass your much appreciated compliments along, too.