Sunrise Manor has been getting into the holiday spirit this year thanks to the efforts of Kip Kelly, who moved to Buena Vista earlier this year.
For Christmas, the lobby of the manor is decorated with Christmas trees, snowmen, Santa Claus figures and Merry Christmas signs galore, as well as a pair of silver and gold wolvesw carved from wood by Kelly himself.
In addition to a tree in the center of the main dining room, there is a tree on each floor of the manor, he said.
For Halloween, the manor was decorated with ghosts and witches, and in the summer, he decorated the home like a luau.
“With COVID and everything, I just like to see people smile,” said Kelly, who funds the decorations himself, sourcing them from thrift stores in the area. “Anything I can do to make people smile.”
Kelly said that God brought him to Buena Vista. He came from Omaha, Neb., where he had been heavily involved in drug use.
“I was getting close to using the needle,” Kelly said. Injecting methamphetamine had destroyed the lives of many of his friends, and he knew that if he went down that path, there would be no turning back.
One day, he decided he had enough and left Omaha.
He first moved to Colorado Springs, where he said the problem was worse, then to Cañon City, where someone suggested he move to Buena Vista.
When he got here, he was immediately taken by the natural beauty everywhere he looked, his concerns about fitting in assuaged by friendliness of its people.
He quickly decided that this was where he wanted to live out the remainder of his life.
“If that’s not a God thing, I don’t know what is,” Kelly said.
One of the residents at Sunrise Manor asks Kelly every time he sees him if Kelly is working with Santa Claus. Another resident had an aversion to Christmas, which Kelly learned came from her losing her mother on Christmas day 10 years ago.
That attitude changed when she saw the tree Kelly had put up in the dining room.
“This year, she put up a tree,” Kelly said, beaming with pride.
Kelly said his own mother loved Christmas, and that he believed she would be proud to see what he had done at Sunrise Manor. Next year, he said, will be even bigger.
“I told my sister where I had moved and she said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that place,’” Kelly said.
“I told her this was where I wanted to die, and she said ‘Well, why don’t you try living there for a while first?’ She’s got a great sense of humor like that.”