Campers Escape Cold on Jekyll Island, Ga.
Glen Mauck rolled into the Jekyll Island Campground on the Georgia coast last week after a long ride from Cheyenne, Wyo. It wasn't long before Mauck saw some familiar faces – Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus and his reindeer.
Settled in for the winter, Mauck said the inflatable Christmas characters were among the decorations he puts up each year for his stay on an island where the Christmas lights sparkle, according to the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald.
The Maucks are not unique. About five camping lots away, a Christmas tree glowed outside the door of a motorhome with lights draped across the front.
Others wrapped the trunks of pines with lights. A wreath hung from the rearview mirror of a motorhome and strings of lights outlined canopies of others.
Kenneth and Juanita Harmon of Signal Mountain, Tenn., were a bit more low-key with a couple of strings of lights around their screened picnic shelter. "We didn't do too much," Harmon said. "Some of them look like they hocked the farm."
Pat and Peter Wagar don't go all out, but you can tell what the season is by looking at their lamppost wrapped in lights and garland.
After renting hotels on Jekyll Island for a month, the Wagars decided to stay the whole winter in the campground. They arrive Nov. 1 and stay until about April 15.
All the campsites have signs hanging from the lampposts with state maps showing where the campers are from. The Wagars live near Hayward, Wis., near Lake Superior where the temperature already has hit zero with the official winter season just starting. Pat Wagar said she doesn't miss the snow, but her Wisconsin sign is dotted with some spray-on snow.
Although they deck the RVs in a number of ways, most campers have one light in common, the glow of campfires most nights.
The Christmas crowd contains a lot of regulars, Jekyll Island spokesman Eric Garvey said. "It's like a little community out there," he said.
That includes a Monday night potluck dinner that Pat Wagar chairs. There are only about 20 diners now, but it will reach at least 100 under the big tent once the other regulars begin arriving after the holidays, she said.
Before they come, there will be a spike the first weekend in January when bluegrass fans come for the annual three-day bluegrass music festival, Garvey said.
Some delay Christmas celebrations until they get back home while others, including the Maucks and Wagars, get Christmas visits from family. Although it turns out to be fun, many come just to escape brutal winters, including some from Ontario.
It is getting kind of expensive to drive all the way across the country, but Mauck said it was worth the estimated $600 he spent on fuel. "I would have spent more than that on heat back in Wyoming," he said.