The home at 13 Reithel St. has become a “must see” for anyone who appreciates holiday light displays. Unfortunately, on Wednesday night, the display went dark after a generator overheated and caught fire.

“The flames were above the house,” said Kristy Manning by phone on Thursday. “I was terrified. I still want to cry when I think about it.” she added.

The generator, wiring, circuit panel and control board were destroyed. Foruntately, there was no damage to the home, shed or the display itself.

Photo courtesy Auburn Holiday Displays/Facebook

But the story has a silver lining.

As it has done many times before, the Auburn Community rallied to get the Reithel display up and running again. As word of the damage spread, words of encouragement and support quickly filled the Mannings’ Auburn Holiday Displays Facebook page. Within hours, a GoFundMe page was set up with a goal of raising $1,200 to replace the fire-damaged equipment. As of Thursday evening, that goal had been met.

But the Mannings’ first thought was not so much her display, but how it would affect donations to AYFS or the Auburn Police Toy Drive this Christmas season. Her husband, Joshua Manning, immediately took to Facebook to break the bad news, but also to encourage would-be visitors to bring donations directly to AYFS or the APD.

See, the Mannings have used their annual Halloween and Christmas displays as fundraisers for AYFS and the Auburn Police toy drive. They open up their yard – and sometimes even their home – for all to enjoy, and ask only that people donate an item. That might be a new, unwrapped toy, clothes, hats, gift cards, or cash.

“Really everything helps” said Manning. “Even small stocking stuffers, for a family that is struggling it makes a difference.”

Photo courtesy Auburn Holiday Displays/Facebook

Manning admits she is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community.  She has been receiving calls and texts all day.

“People have been offering so many kind words and comments and offers to help,” she said. “I really had no idea the display meant so much to so many people.”

While Manning is still understandably upset and in a bit of shock over Wednesday’s events, she is also optimistic. “Joshua is already building a new generator and circuit board case” she added.

For updates on the repairs and hours for the display, check their  Auburn Holiday Displays Facebook page.

“We might even be back as soon as this weekend,” said Manning.