Hometown Heroes

Hometown Hero passes the torch for Hubbard Elementary Christmas display

Filling those big shoes means big plans

HUBBARD, Ohio (WYTV) - Mike Holowatuk and his wife have been putting up a mini, self-described Kraynak's-like Christmas display in the Hubbard Elementary School cafeteria for several years.

They've done so on their own time and money. 

His mission of bringing holiday cheer to the school continues but is undergoing some changes. 

Holowatuk put the finishing touches on the Christmas display in 2015. WYTV first recognized him as a hometown hero that holiday season. 

Holowatuk is the custodian at Hubbard Elementary School -- building, funding, and setting up an ornate and animated Christmas display certainly isn't in the job description.

"It started out me and my wife and then every once in a while I'd have some friends come and help. My sister, my mother would come and do bows. But basically, it was me and my wife," he said.

The first was in 2011. fast forward seven years and it has grown, there's a homemade Ferris wheel, a custom-built Santa house, a sleigh, a Teeter-totter, several trees. New this year are two new faces taking the reigns.

"He came to me and said, you know, what is your idea about maybe taking this over and I said why don't you come and see my house because my husband goes all out for Christmas. And, he did. He came and drove past and said yep, I want you guys to take over," said Brandi Grigsby.

Though a date hasn't been set, Holowatuk is nearing retirement. Brandi and Jason Grigsby agreed to take over the display after helping out with it last year.

"I wanted somebody that really takes it to heart to do this and I think they're the couple that does. I feel good, I can go home and sleep now," Holowatuk said.

"We've seen this display since it started. It started when our eighth grader was here in elementary school, so we've seen it every year, we've seen it grow. We knew that we had big shoes to fill," Brandi said.

Filling those big shoes means big plans.

"It'll take time and just a little bit every year and as long as the principal keeps letting us add onto it, we'll keep moving down the wall," she said. "We don't want this tradition to go by the wayside or just dwindle away. We want to keep doing this."

The Grigsbys & Mike Holowatuk all echoed the same thing about why they do this, it's the reaction of the kids. 

They say the display brings the elementary schoolers so much joy and excitement and they love seeing them try to find what's new. 

But mostly, they love to see the smiles, happiness, and holiday cheer.

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