RI man says 'Holiday Van' spreads comfort and joy
A Rhode Island man is spreading Christmas cheer by driving -- in style.
For the last six years, George Earley, of Coventry, has decorated his white van for whatever holiday is approaching.
He calls it the "Holiday Van," and its appearance is always changing.
"Right now, it’s called the Christmas van. For Halloween, it's called Halloween van. Thanksgiving, we call it the turkey van," said Earley.
The van is a sight to see, especially around Christmas.
There’s an inflatable Santa and elf intertwined with Christmas lights on top.
Decals cover the sides and back of the van, while a decorative Christmas tree can be found on the front of the vehicle.
Santa Claus hangs in his mirror with a replica of the North Pole, all constructed by Earley, who puts a tremendous amount of effort into the project.
It's a big hit for families with children.
“They're like, ‘Oh, my God. Did I just see that?’ A lot of people bring their children over to see it”, said Earley. “The biggest thing is I like to make sure people get a smile on their face.”
Inside are edible candy canes that Earley hands out when people approach him for a picture of the holiday van.
When NBC 10 News went for a ride with him, he passed them out to police officers and road workers along the streets.
“I’ve gotten pulled over a couple times and the cops will say, ‘You're not in trouble. We want to take a picture,”’ said Earley.
Several years ago, Earley had brain surgery.
“I was having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit,” he said. “They [doctors] told me I’d never walk again, but I'm walking.”
It was that miracle that prompted him to spread holiday joy.
“It was like, ‘OK. It’s time to start doing something to move on and make other people happy,’” he said.
He said the future of his four-wheeled wonder is promising and if you see him he encourages all to pay his van a visit.
“I continue to do it because I like making sure people get that smile on their face,” said Earley.