By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Curtis and Melody Bearden are famous for their colossal display of Christmas lights named after their daughter Autumn. Before “turning on the lights” this year, the Beardens will open a new attraction at their Tarboro home — a drive-in movie theater.
The drive-in will open for the first time at 7 p.m. tonight at the Beardens’ home at 38 Sir Dillons Lane off N.C. Highway 33, for a showing of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The Christmas classic seemed an appropriate choice to kick off the holiday movie lineup, said Curtis Bearden.
“It’s a good family film and it’s got really good Christmas meaning to it,” he said.
The Beardens will show movies at 7 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 29.
After pulling into the drive-in and parking, folks will tune their radios to a specific frequency in order to hear the movie.
On Christmas Eve, the Beardens will show “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” On Christmas Day, “The Nativity” will appear on the big, screen. Between tonight and the final movie showing, Bearden said people could expect to see “all the classics – Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch …”
The Beardens are not charging an entrance fee for the movie showings, but they are accepting donations for a cause, as they do with “Autumn’s Lights” visitors. This year, all the money the Beardens raise will go to the family of 16-month-old Makayla Manning of Beargrass. Manning is currently at Greenville Children’s Hospital.
“She’s gone through so much since she was born,” Bearden said. He said Manning was born without an esophagus, has a heart murmur and has abnormalities on her spine. She has undergone multiple surgeries.
This marks the 11th year that the Beardens will display their “Autumn’s Lights” for a cause. The “Turning on the Lights” celebration is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, and the lights will remain on throughout the Christmas season. Bearden said the family started displaying the “Autumn’s Lights” to share with everyone the “true meaning of Christmas” after the Christmastime birth of their daughter, Autumn.
“God gave us the greatest gift, which is His Son. Christmas, for us, is to be able to give back to other people and provide that caring and sharing,” he said.
The Beardens will have train rides through the lights at the “Turning on the Lights” celebration, and the Hobgood trio of sisters “Eyes of Emiline” will sing for the crowd. Vendors will sell food at the event, as well. The evening will end with a fireworks display at 8 p.m.
For more information about “Autumn’s Lights” or to view the movie lineup, visit www.autumnslights.com.