To generations of Vallians, Shine Tyson was “Mister Christmas”. Many of us mid-century classics were small children when his snowman-in-a-wreath first appeared on Main Street lightpoles.
His decorations are very much a part of our collective Christmas memories.
This story by a very young Lucia Hollaway was published in the Herald in December 1956.
Shine Tyson’s Artistry Again Gains Recognition For City
Letters Pouring In
By Mary Lucia George
The magical lilt and thrill of Christmas is with us again.
A spirit seen in home decorations of holly wreaths, lighted trees and mistletoe. To further carry on the message of the Yuletide Season, the business district of Water Valley sparkles radiantly to delight people far and near.
Letters of praise have been sent to the Decorations Committee and Mr. W. S. Tyson.
As we view the decorations of our city and observe the attention that they demand, we wonder, “How did this all come about?”
In the September 20, 1951 issue of the NMH, Editor Edward Shearer wrote in his “Shearings”: “A timely subject was mentioned to us this week, and we think it is well to pass on. It is just a little more than three months from now to Christmas. Some decorations of the city for the season would increase the feeling of good cheer.
We know that many of the citizens would like to see the city gaily decorated. Possibly one of the city organizations will consider the matter and make some definite move to decorate the city.
There had not been any Main Street decorations since World War II. Before the War, Andrew Berry, City Electrician, and his crew had decorated the magnolia trees in the Railroad Park. At the time of Mr. Shearer’s writing, however, the Garden Club sponsored annually a home decoration contest that was quite effective.
Mr. Berry was the first person to pick up the words of the column and promote them. Then, the “snowball of progress” began rolling!
Mrs. Earl Bell, then president of the Garden Club, suggested to the Club members that they adopt a project of city Christmas decorations that would be financed by the merchants.
A committee, together with a representative from each civic organization, met at Blackmur Café to discuss the possibility of decorating Main Street.
Within three hours after the meeting, “Shine” Tyson had sketched a scene to ornament the bandstand. Since that time, Mr. Tyson has devoted his time untiringly to the making of original decorations to display on the bandstand and throughout Main Street.
Among the many arrangements used on the bandstand have been a group of white candles, a miniature steepled church, and a merry snowman and snowwoman waving greetings to passersby. A favorite of many Christmas visitors was the 1955 church choir scene. This scene was so popular that it was requested by many to be used again this year. This was done, with some new additions.
The musical greeting shows a group of singing choir boys standing on either side of a majestic organ. Organ music intrigues visitors to stop and listen. A bright star shines through the night to remind Water Vallians of their many blessings.
“Shine” Tyson, modest about this talent, begins construction of the decorations for the coming season in mid-January. He toils unselfishly through the spring and summer constructing the miniature figures and takes no credit for his achievement. In the fall, Garden Club members, merchants, and citizens pitch-in to do their part. Each part of the decorations demand painstaking labor and time, to say nothing of the balance and proportion necessary when the whole arrangement is put together.
The City Electric Department erects the electrical decorations free of charge. Merchants sell supplies to the committee at cost. Throughout the town people donate their time and energy to help add to the Christmas pleasure of on-lookers.
“Shine” Tyson says, “Without the cooperation of citizens such as are found in Water Valley, these traditional displays could never have been accomplished.”