Christmas display tradition continues after 'matriarch' of lights dies

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Christmas tradition in Richmond continues this year, but it could stop once the holiday is over.

People in Richmond are always amazed by the dazzling lights and holiday display at two homes on Asbury Court in Richmond.

The display began 43 years ago by Rose Phifer and her husband.

"I found a shoebox in the shed completely wrapped with masking tape. It was in the shed we weren't supposed to be playing in," said Bobby Phifer, Rose Phifer's son. "We found the box and had to open it and found Christmas lights. We strung those lights around the shed for two weeks before dad caught us. It became Christmas time, I convinced dad to pull them out and put them around the door and window, and from that year on its been nonstop."

The display has earned recognition among people in the area and has grown even larger and more beautiful over the last four decades, specifically 12 years ago when Bobby Phifer moved next door to his parents.

"Mom was called the matriarch of Christmas," he said. "But the past couple of years we've had to scale back. The thought of it coming to an end has been on our mind for years."

They scaled back due to Rose's poor health.

"My mom had been having some rough times the last couple of years," Bobby Phifer said.

Phifer says his mom had internal bleeding about four to five years ago and then she got sick with shingles. One Saturday, at the end of 2016, Rose was found unresponsive and months later, in March, she had a stroke and died about a week later.

"One thing she did say is when she passes away, she wants me to decorate her house so she can see it from up above," he said. "And we done it this year. We went all out this year."

But Phifer doesn't know if this display can continue.

"If we still own the house next year we will decorate it," Phifer said. "If we don't or are in the process of selling it, we won't."

Phifer said he and his two sisters now own the home, but that one of his sister's was just diagnosed with lung cancer. They don't think the three of them can continue to own it so they are hoping to sell it to a family member so the decorating doesn't have to stop.

"We know it's a big part of Richmond tradition, that's why we're trying to keep it in the family," Phifer said.

A tradition, that at least for this year, will live on and light up the sky this holiday season.

Check out more holiday homes in Central Virginia: 

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