Its their favorite way to spend girls night out.
Wrapped in quilts with the car windows down, Gloria Paumier, 83, of Charlotte said she and a group of friends have been driving through McAdenville to see the lights for nearly 14 years.
McAdenville the small textile town 15 miles west of Charlotte has spent the past 57 years making an internationally known name for itself as Christmas Town USA. The free holiday display, featuring roughly 700,000 lights, draws more than 600,000 visitors annually and can back up interstate traffic for miles on the weekends, according to officials.
At one time we had nine or 10 folks in the group, we used to have to take two cars, Paumier said. Now, she said their group consists of Dot Sloan, 87, and Bobbie Rogers, whod only say shes over 90.
The trio who met through a mutual bridge-playing acquaintance has a standing date every Friday night. Paumier picks them up from Southminster Retirement Community and they meet at least for dinner, and often, other local activities like the Yiasou Greek Festival.
Some folks can no longer drive but can still go to a restaurant, with perfectly good manners, and have a nice night out, Paumier said. They look forward to it and I wouldnt turn them down for the world.
The light show keeps them coming back, she said, because its the most complicated and beautiful display of multicolored lights I have ever seen shown anywhere, she said.
The older gals think of days gone past and the Christmases theyve had. Theyre just like children, with eyes lit up looking at those beautiful lights. Were so fortunate to have such a thing nearby.
Sloan said growing up, her family didnt decorate with lights but shes always loved to see them. My mother was a single mother and she was raising two girls, me and my sister, and she couldnt afford (lights), Sloan said. We had a mini Christmas tree every year; she gave us what she could afford during the Depression.
Rogers said she and her family used to decorate with lights when they lived in Statesville, though she noted it was never anything so elaborate. Her favorite McAdenville fixture: around the lake. Its just beautiful. I think thats the thing that impresses me the most.
Paumier said one of her favorite memories of the lights was several years ago when there was a patriotic-theme. We thought that was an absolutely wonderful display in favor of the (troops) trying to keep it OK for us.
As the trio plans to head over to McAdenville for opening night, one memory from several years ago always makes the ladies smile, Paumier said.
I got the girls and we went to McAdenville and got each one wrapped up in a quilt. They were having the best time; we went over a couple areas twice because it was so pretty, she said.
As soon as the nose of the car dipped down (U.S) 74 to come back to Charlotte, it dawned on me that I have seats that are heated. I never felt so foolish in my entire life, Paumier said with a laugh. The gals got a big charge out of that, everyone teased me for awhile. I do, now, remember that I have heated seats.