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Jessie Hall, 13, and her parents Kristi and Cris Hall live in Aledo, Texas. Kristi - the Kelley's daughter - grew up in Cheyenne.

The Halls started a Hemi Foundation for children and their families who have had or will have the brain surgery. The foundation also works with medical professionals to pay for research into the causes of diseases that lead to intractable seizures and surgery.

 
 
Directions
 •  Go East on old Highway 30
 •  From College Drive - 4.2 miles to Reese Road
 •  North on Reese Road 1 mile to Beckle Road
 •  One block west to Ashley Drive
 •  Go North on Ashley Drive
 •  5th House on Right, 6565 Ashley Drive
   
  Any questions please call Gary at 307-630-6641 or e-mail us at papa@hemiforest.com.
   

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The Forest of Hope

“The Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope” was conceived in September of 2010. Our inspiration came from a planned trip home for Christmas that year by our daughter Christi and her family. We wanted to make it memorable, so we decided to light several of the pine trees in our front yard.

They were delighted with the prospect of a Christmas at Grandma and Papa's house in Wyoming.

As we made plans for about 10 trees to be decorated, it came to me that it would so neat to light a tree for each of the children in the “hemifoundation” database. So a call was placed to see how many kids were signed up. Holy cow - there were over 400.

Undaunted I started counting the trees and found that we had plenty of trees. So the engineering of the electrical began.

Then the material for 2000 feet of underground cable, weather proof in use outlet boxes, timers, conduit, wire nuts and 22 service posts were ordered. Special thanks to Sutherland Lumber in Cheyenne for the special pricing and expertise to make sure we had more than adequate power for expansion.

A week later when the supplies came in we found out how much a 1000 ft reel of underground wire weighs.

Luckily we have a Kubota tractor with front end loader and a very heavy rear blade. I turn the blade and rotated it to trench the electrical line in. Simple, just set the depth and took off. To my surprise, it took less than an hour to trench the whole project. 22 post holes were dug and the lines were dropped in and covered. Then the outlets trimmed in and tested.

Next came the ordering of lights and extension cords. Ever tried finding Christmas lights in September? Capitol Lumber came to the rescue! Not only could they get the lights but we would have them by mid October. Lots of time! I hung lights on about 30 trees and realized that I would have to really hurry if I was to have the lights all on by December 1st.

High West Energy was called to let them know of the increase in our bill would probably raise a flag. They were interested in our project. All of a sudden I had about 20 High West employees decorating trees. We were ready to light by the 10th of November!!

Along with some neighbors, we must have set some sort of Guinness record for decorating that many trees in that short of time.

At any rate the first year 2010 was ready to light. TV stations, newspapers were on the scene and we were really making some headlines. 450 trees, 450 extension cords, 65,000 lights and we were ready for Christmas.

December 16th and Jessie has to have another major surgery. We leave our trees and head to Texas 2 days after her operation. We have early Christmas in Texas. We return home and have Christmas with the rest of the family. We are determined to make the Forest bigger and better and animated for Christmas 2011.

Plans start in January 2011.

Funding comes with selling motor home, and toys not needed.

Finally found someone who could use the motor home and keep it full of gas.

I’m tickled.

Nancy buys garden scale diesel model train as inspiration. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. 1200 ft of track, eight locomotives, cars, station, etc were purchased after much searching one the internet. Model train show and used stuff were the order of our lives for 4 months.

A large water feature is designed and installed. By mid July 5 waterfalls and 140 feet of creek provides the backdrop for future train tracks and trestles.

Another month of installing infrastructure and we are build our first trestle and train track. In three days the first locomotive is running a 140 foot circle through the trees and over the creek.

Another 150 foot circle and trestle follows the next week. 28,000 lbs of railroad ballast hauled in from Granite Canyon Quarry were used to support the track system.

Next, an indoor railroad and Christmas decorations are to be designed.

30 foot circles of track will be installed, large granite rocks to be hauled in to provide that special feeling of the west and early look of the railroad. It would look good raised about a foot of the ground. 20 yards of dirt and 3 pallets of retaining wall block later and we have the effect we want.

I didn’t realize how ugly the walls were in the steel building with junk piled and leaned against them. I didn’t see anything I wanted to get rid of so I built a 10 food tall false wall around the train display. Covering the wall with a white weed barrier cloth was cheap and something I could do by myself.

Michael’s Hobby came to my rescue. Decorating the 72 ft by 10 ft tall wall was a daunting task I was willing to do, but my expertise was shallow compared to what Susan, Todd, and the staff had in mind. They matched my dollars and provided the installation of the decorations. All I did was provide electrical outlets and stay out of their way! It took eight employees 8 hours to complete the display in 10 degree weather. 580 stockings with hemi-kids names were hung, even a fireplace and nutcracker soldiers, beautiful bows, brick wall, reindeer, elves, wrapped boxes, trees, oh my goodness, wait till you see it!

What’s Christmas without a hay ride?

That’s what I thought too. So off to buy a trailer at “The Welding Shop”. Jerry Pauli and wife Jo have just the trailer we need. Its used, clean, nice , narrow to go through the trees and can be pulled with our ATV.

It needs a pretty red coat of paint. Not my cup of tea. So to the rescue is Mike Grey, owner of “On Site Automotive”.  Sand blasts, sands, primed and paints the most beautiful Christmas red I have ever seen. Mike won’t let me pay him a dime. It looks absolutely brand new! What a great friend he and his family are.

A&C Feed donates straw bales and we are in the hayride business.

One of the loads of 17 people that enjoyed riding through the forest sang Christmas Carols. Was just what I needed to keep me pumped up.

So with the additions in 2011, we had 92,000 lights, 650 extension chords, over 600 strings of lights. Water features, model trains running, and hay rides. As we neared Christmas, we finished up the final touches of what we have now. So fun to have folks come to visit every night.

Please stop in and see and feel the wonder of “The Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope”

In 2012 we added more lights, more extension cords and of course, more trees! There are 108,000 lights, over 700 extension cords, and 600 trees. The indoor display with the garden scale railroad is up and running. We are doing hay rides most nights with hot chocolate or hot apple cider will be served after the hay ride.

Come out for a visit, the lights have been turned on as of October 15, 2012!

Nancy and Gary Kelley

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