West Virginia’s own Clark Griswold helps make the season brighter in Almost Heaven
Last updated: August 30, 2021
Neighborhood Christmas light evening road trips are still an important tradition in southern West Virginia. There is nothing like loading up the car, filling up the hot chocolate mugs and winding through country roads – in search of Christmas lights. One family goes all out in Mercer County, West Virginia.
Travis Collis, who lives with his family in Princeton, became an overnight sensation in 2017 when he posted a video tour of his elaborately decorated home on Facebook. His personal ‘winter wonderland’ is packed with baubles, nutcrackers, elves, and 15 Christmas trees decorated with different themes. Each tree has its own theme, and Travis’ sons get to partake in the annual tradition of decorating their own trees from the inspiration of their choosing.
“I’ve always been interested in Christmas,” says Travis. “Even as a child it’s always been a big deal in our family.” This comment may be one of the biggest understatements of all time. Travis Collis is really interested in Christmas. So much so, that he even has ‘Christmas Cave’ in his basement that he keeps decorated 365 days a year.
“I actually never intended to promote my home,” says Collis. “I made my video to share the house with some family and friends that were unable to make it to see in person. Then the morning after I posted it, I woke up to a couple million views and then it just continued to grow. The response has been amazing. I’ve made friends all over the world, people have been so amazing and friendly. I get messages from people all over the world and it’s great to see their decorations and customs.” The video has been viewed more than 45 million times, and fans can’t stop gushing about his magical home.
Every inch of Travis’ home is filled with festive decorations, which he has been collecting for the past 17 years. Some pieces have been handed down from generation to generation, while others he has accumulated on his own. Travis also happens to be a huge fan of the Grinch, and he has an entire bedroom dedicated to the reformed villain and his neighbors in Whoville.
“The (decorations) that mean the most to me are the ones that have been given to me,” says Collis. “My grandmother was always my biggest fan and supporter and when she passed away I got her decorations. When I put them out they remind me of spending time with her. I have several things from loved ones that have passed and the reminder of those people, I just cherish them.”
Always adding and changing to the holiday decor is a passion for Travis. “I have several new items this year but the most exciting is a new 12 ft tree” says Collis. “it’s very different than the one I used in the past. Most of my themes are totally different and new this year.”
Travis believes that the holidays are even more special in southern West Virginia. “I feel like people of out of their way to be friendly and festive,” says Collis. “People decorate their homes and cars. I feel like people are more giving and generous, willing to help their fellow man out. There is a feeling of magic and kindness in the air.”
Travis also helps decorate The Greenbrier Resort in nearby Greenbrier County, and other business throughout southern West Virginia. To get a glimpse of Mr. Christmas, check out the famous video for yourself.