Some Florence neighborhoods decorate with Christmas themes

December 24, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. – When one drives along some streets in Florence, it’s hard not to notice certain patterns of Christmas decorations.

Country Club Forest has red bells, Wisteria Drive has white bells, South Margaret Drive has Nutcracker soldiers, another neighborhood has snowmen, and still another has candy canes on display.

Franny Robey helped create two of those themes.

When Robey married her husband, a doctor at McLeod, the couple moved to the corner where Wisteria Drive becomes Santee Drive. She worked with Jack Asko and Mary Kirkpatrick to get a decorative theme in that neighborhood. She eventually used the red bells as a template to create white bells. The bells originally went from Santee almost to Edisto Drive.

“That whole street is still using the same bells that I did in 1982,” Robey said.

The bells remain with the homes when the homes change owners.

“I love it [seeing the white bells], because, you know, when I was a child, I had the bells in Country Club Forest,” she said, “and now, you know, I’m not only able to take my children but my grandchildren as well.”

Robey and her husband moved nearby to a home on South Margaret Drive. At the time, that neighborhood did not have a theme.

“At that time, my daughter was dancing with the South Carolina Dance Theatre, and every year the South Carolina Dance Theatre performs ‘The Nutcracker,’” Robey said. “So when we were trying to think of what we could use, there were already bells, and one neighborhood fairly close to me had started using snowmen, and one neighborhood was using candy canes.”

Robey resolved to come up with something different: the Nutcracker soldier.

Susan Oxer and Asko also assisted with the creation of the decorations on South Margaret Drive.

As on Wisteria, the soldiers remain with the home when the homes change hands.

Now, Robey and her husband live on Lakeshore Drive. That neighborhood uses Canada geese as decorations.

The Country Club Forest red bells were a tradition possibly started by Robey’s father.

She said she thinks her father, who opened the Union Carbide plant in 1966, was instrumental in getting the red bells started in that neighborhood.

“I think that my father started those bells in that neighborhood and had them cut out in his plant, but that part I am not a 100 percent sure of,” Robey said.

She said the bells remain with the homes when the homes change owners. Each new family adds their names to the bells.

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