Christmas Aficionado Restores Sleds and Raises Money for Charity with Elaborate Christmas Exhibit | Lifestyles


Christmas decorating comes to life at Ron and Pam Sperings.

“I consider myself a big toymaker,” said Ron Spering, who works year-round on his Christmas-related passions.

According to his wife Pam, Christmas never ends at the Spering residence on the corner of Heathwood Drive and Whiteheart Court. Between Ron’s hobby of restoring antique sleighs and his passion for outdoor Christmas displays, it’s always the Sperings’ most wonderful time of year.

“We’ve been married for 44 years,” jokes Pam Spering, “and it’s been a cheerful 44 years. It does not stop. It’s always Christmas all year round. He is always building, tinkering. It gets him out of the house. He goes into the garage and works on his projects.

Spering always adds to his Christmas display. One of last year’s additions may be his best yet.

“The most important thing for us now is the connection with St. Jude Children’s Hospital,” Spering said. “Last year was the first time we did it and it brought in $12,740.”

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Ron Spering designed the guest registration stand and donation box with the same attention to detail that goes into his sled restorations.

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Ron and Pam Spering add flowers to flower boxes in Ron’s frozen castle. Spering created the castle from scratch.

Spering, who retired from a family graphic arts business in Pennsylvania, has always been hands-on. So it makes sense that he built the collection box used to collect donations at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The collection box looks like a mailbox, but Spering made it out of Lauan plywood, which is very flexible.

This year, Spering added a beautiful guest registration shelf so visitors to its Christmas display can leave comments or suggestions. Ron and Pam were blown away by the comments from visitors.

“This is the first year Ron has had a sign-up book so people can write little comments,” Pam said. “You’d be surprised how many people had ties or experiences with St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Some people were in a trust fund and donated money from the trust fund to St. Jude right here There was a woman whose child needed a pacemaker in her heart. She said St. Jude paid for it all. It touches your heart. There were many nice and touching things written there. In addition, the children sign. There is a small stool there for them to stand on. One of them wrote on it: “I want a pony for Christmas.”

Spering continues a family tradition of decorating for Christmas.

“My dad always went too far,” he said. “In the north, we were on 10 acres. It was really crazy. Maybe 10 times bigger than that. we won it. They came out and did our screen weather. It was much, much bigger than what is here. Here I am a little limited. There will be something new next year, but I don’t know where I’m going to put it.

The Sperings have been at their Heathwood and Whiteheart location for five years now. It’s perfect for Ron because he has two garages. One for the cars, one for his workshop.

“We have double garages,” Pam said. “One is his studio that’s open all year round. Any time of the year his garage door will be open and he’ll be playing music – he was a drummer in a rock band. It’s explosive during that he builds his Christmas stuff.

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Ron and Pam Spering with the train he designed. It’s his favorite piece.

Booming Christmas music all year round?

“No, it’s more classic rock,” Spering said with a laugh.

Spering estimates that he has restored over 100 sleds. When he finds them, they are old and broken down.

“They’re all usually 100 years old with the old paint on them,” Pam said. “So he has to take that off.”

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Ron Spering explains the logistics involved in setting up his Christmas display each year.

He takes the necessary precautions to remove the lead-based paint, then painstakingly restores it. He just finished restoring two sleds and sold the second of the two last week. He was a loyal customer.

“Santa bought the second of two sleighs today,” Spering said. He said many of his sledding customers were called Santa Claus.

“A few months ago I got a call from a Santa Claus in North Carolina,” Spering said. “He said, ‘I found you. I hear you restoring sleds. So he got down his sled. I restored it. He took it back. So he and Mrs. Claus are in business.

But no everything of its customers go through Santa Claus.

“People who buy them from me are Christmas nuts,” he said, “who might want to display one on their lawn. Or sometimes it’s a photographer. I’ve sold a few to a commercial decorator in Naples.”

Every year, Spering adds something to its Christmas display.

“Every year it gets bigger,” Spering said.

“Or more intense,” Pam interjects.

“The Frozen display was new last year,” Spering said. “After Christmas, we both go out in different directions to take advantage of the 50% off Christmas sales. She called me from Target. She had a picture of Olaf the snowman and the reindeer. She said, ‘These things are at Target. Can you do anything with them? I said, ‘Yeah, okay, go ahead and buy them.’ It took me a year to find the shape of the castle. The castle sisters I found on eBay. That’s how a lot of things start and happen.”

The fashioned Spering Castle is a show stopper in itself. But it’s one of many original designs he came up with in his garage workshop. But of all his creations, he is most proud of the train he created decades ago.

“You know, I still love the train,” he said. “And this was built 30 years ago. But I also love the castle. I built it from scratch.”

There’s also a huge drum with an equally huge teddy bear on top that’s constantly spinning. He made the drum using Luan plywood. But that wasn’t the hardest part.

“The trick is to gear down the engine,” he explains. “Unless you want to spend $500 on a slow motor. I’ll get an $80 motor that does 1500 rpm. So I have a pulley, one inch by six. Then you start over. The tricky part is to make the pulleys and fan belts slow down the faster motor in there.That’s also how the wheels of the train work.

It’s quite an undertaking for Spering to mount his exhibit every year.

“I start the day after Halloween,” he said. “I think it’s kind of cheesy to start putting up decorations before Halloween. But I complicate it on myself. So I start the day after Halloween and light it up on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, both years, I turned it on the night before, because it was ready. I used to start the weekend after Thanksgiving. But I had people say to me, ‘My grandchildren are here for Thanksgiving and on the weekend they go home.” And many people write in the book that it is a tradition for them after Thanksgiving dinner.

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Ron Spering Christmas Exhibition. Much of the display is handcrafted by Spering.

Breaking down the display goes a little faster. He has a 30′ storage unit in Naples to store all of his display items.

“It goes down faster than it goes up,” he laughs. “But it still takes two or three weeks. I have a trailer to haul the stuff back and forth. It’s kind of an expensive hobby. But I try not to say too much.”

He said the people on the island who go out of their way with their Christmas displays tend to know each other.

“About,” he said. “Among the guys there is no competition. They offered to help me. If I have stuff that I can’t use anymore, I’ll give it to someone.”

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It’s safe to say that Ron and Pam Spering love Christmas. Their dogs are named Jingles and Frosty.

Spering won the island’s home decorating contest two years ago. There is a five-year sit-out clause. He thinks it’s a great idea.

“There wouldn’t be a light bulb less if there weren’t a contest,” he said. “Nobody does all this to win an award. I think the five-year wait is good. Because it encourages other people who really want to get into it. That way they don’t get discouraged. If we don’t let’s never win again, so be it. If there are 30 more houses on Marco that do a lot of decorating, that would be great.

Pam could barely contain her laughter as she shared a humorous anecdote about this year’s preparations. Ron rents a boom lift every year to go around the house and reach the top of the house where there are treetop lights.

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The Let it Snow display folds in several places to fit in a 30 foot storage space with the rest of the display elements.

“The aerial lift broke this year,” Pam said with a laugh, “and he was stuck up there. It took them 45 minutes to come and rescue him. We were ready to call the fire department.”

“It goes with the territory,” said Ron deadpan.

Spering turned 70 two months ago. But he has no intention of slowing down.

“Every year the roof goes up and things get heavier,” he jokes. “But I’ve been saying this for 20 years. I can’t imagine do not I do it.”

“He never talks about quitting,” Pam admits. “He just keeps going.”


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