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Legacy of lights: Huntsville holiday tradition reborn

BROWNSBORO – A winter wonderland filled with Santa’s reindeer, inflatable decorations, and a scenic atmosphere attracts countless families and children to the Preston Valley Christmas Lights near Monte Sano.

Kindergarten teacher Shannon Shelton said the light show has become a family tradition.

(Preston Valley Christmas Lights featuring Horseshoe Trail Memorabilia/Facebook)

“The first year that we came, it was contained to just the front yard,” said Shelton. “Some decorations were in the windows. It has really grown – down the street, across the street.”

Her students at Monte Sano Elementary School are hearing about it too.

“Oh, my goodness! The students would say, ‘Ms. Shelton, did you know that I went to Mrs. Zeek’s house?’” said Shelton. “They always talk about Santa in the window. He points and sees if you’ve been naughty or nice.

“They’re always excited about that.”

So excited that college student Will Zeek flips his parents’ home into Santa’s North Pole.
Zeek started small when he was younger, and said he learned how to program Christmas lights to music during his teenage years.

“Years before I did it, Dr. John Higginbotham would decorate the Horseshoe Trail,” said Zeek. “It was a famous spot in southeast Huntsville. He had tons of props. He turned his house into a castle – the whole nine yards, like us.”

The late orthopedic surgeon was known for his large Christmas displays.

“You can say that I got the bug from him,” said Zeek. “He brought so much light to the community. In 2019, Higginbotham passed away. We were blessed to get his stuff and carry on his legacy.”

It was the same year that Zeek began accepting donations to help him add Christmas displays and to support Type 1 diabetes research through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Zeek battles Type 1 diabetes and said, “Dr. Higginbotham always gave back to the community.”

Preston Valley Christmas Lights on Preston Ridge Drive runs nightly from 5–10 p.m. through New Year’s Eve.

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