A man from Villa Hills, Kentucky is delighting his neighbors with an awesome Christmas display at his home, and using the attention to collect donations for tornado victims in Western Kentucky.
Ralph Mueller's front yard is decorated with a small army of inflatable Christmas characters and a stellar lights display. It's a sight you absolutely cannot miss — some of these decorations are several feet tall and one Frosty the Snowman stands at a towering 18-feet.
In an interview with WKRC-TV, Mueller said that he only started decorating for Christmas two years ago, at the urging of his granddaughter. Last year, he added 49 inflatable Christmas characters to his collection. This year he has 100 decorations. Everyone from Frosty the Snowman to Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus, of course, and even the Grinch is represented.
"Whether you're young or old, it just puts a smile on everybody's face," said Mueller.
"I've got people driving by and thanking me just for bringing back Christmas," he added, observing that outdoor Christmas decorations have become less popular in recent years.
But the neighbors aren't just stopping by to admire the show. On Dec. 15, Mueller told his Facebook neighborhood group that he would be putting collection barrels out in front of his yard. He said anyone who wanted to visit to see the inflatables could drop off toys and food, which were donated to tornado victims in Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec. 23.
The community was happy to spread some Christmas cheer and give good gifts to those in need.
"They lost everything. It's just so sad," said Nancy Trenkamp, who dropped off toys in one of Mueller's collection bins.
"We've probably got over 1,000 toys," Mueller told WKRC on Tuesday.
He explained that he was inspired to help the tornado relief efforts after his son was deployed to Western Kentucky with the National Guard last week.
"Just seeing him down there and helping out, I figured I could do something to help out too," he said.
Mueller and his family traveled to Western Kentucky on Thursday to deliver the toys and food, becoming a real-life Santa Claus for communities that had their Christmas plans dashed.
"A couple of weeks before Christmas, all the kids are saying, 'Hey, can't wait for Christmas, can't wait for Christmas,' and now they're saying, 'I'm not gonna get Christmas,'" said Mueller.
He added that if donations keep flowing, he'll make a second trip.