King family’s Christmas Display returns to Gulfport after 22 years
It was a Coast tradition for generations.
Families would pack into the station wagon or family sedan and drive out into Woolmarket to “ooh” and “aah” over the King Family Christmas decorations.
The display started around 1956 with a Nativity scene and grew every year. Then Mary “Judy” King, the matriarch of the family, died in 1994, just a couple of weeks after she learned she had cancer. Her husband, Marshall, and the family tried to keep the lights on in her memory and as a gift to the community, but it continued for only another year.
Now, more than 20 years later, the lights are coming back on, the animated Christmas characters are in place and the King’s Christmas Display returns starting Saturday, Dec. 8, through Dec. 30. The display is open from 6-10 p.m. nightly and it’s free.
A 1991 account in the Sun Herald said, “Outside their Three Rivers Road home the Kings have turned their large, wooded yard into a Christmas wonderland, where mechanized and stationary figures are lit along a driveway.”
Visitors would walk or drive past the lights outside before going inside to see the decorations in the Kings’ home.
Marshall King, now 92, told the Sun Herald in 1987 that visitors were well-behaved. “We enjoy having them. And we’ve had very little trouble,” he said.
His daughter and son-in-law, Lisa King Krol and Randy Krol, live next door on the same circular driveway at 15324 Three Rivers Road. They plan to open their home, as her parents did, and treat the young kids with candy canes and their parents with hot coffee.
“Please come in, look around, sign the register, watch the dancing mothballs and see if you can find the singing birds in the tree,” she invites.
People from all over the world have visited the Kings and signed the register. One year they urged everyone who came through to sign and had more than 10,000 names.
The Christmas glow
“We hope you and your family can join us for the holidays, as we bring this tradition back for all friends, new and old to enjoy,” Krol said.
Those who remember the animated figures, many of them made by the King family over the years, will see them again. They also added new displays, Krol said.
It takes so much to power to light all the displays that the King family uses a generator.
“Come visit Pooh and friends in 100 Acre Woods,” she said. “Let visions of sugar plums dance in your head and make a wish in Snow White’s wishing well.”
There’s a piano if anyone is inspired to sit down and play a Christmas tune. Santa will be there to visit with the kids each Saturday and Sunday before Christmas, and kids can bring their letter, with their return address, to “mail” at Santa’s Village.
All of these are traditions started by Judy King after Marshall bought her the Nativity set, the first display. Lisa and her sister, Debbie King Schombert, helped their parents each year and after so many requests are bringing it back this year.
If you go
What: King’s Family Christmas
When: 6-10 p.m., Dec. 8-30
Where: 15324 Three Rivers Road, Biloxi. Take Mississippi 605 north at the Lorraine Road exit of I-10 and turn right onto Three Rivers Road. Or take Woolmarket exit, go north almost 8 miles, take left at Three Rivers Road and go 3.1 miles. A lighted sign will direct you at the turn