Dave Hodgson, UTA train host, nominated Mike and June Willes for January Rider of the Month. “The Willes Home is the talk of the train every time we pass Lehi during Christmas,” says Dave Hodgson, FrontRunner Train Host. “I nominated Mike and June Willes for January Rider of the Month because they bring such an amazing amount of holiday cheer to our riders from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s Day.”
Mike Willes grew up in Lehi, Utah and spent most of his time working on his family farm. After returning from his mission, he started working as a carpenter for Layton Construction. He worked the next 40 years for Layton Construction and only missed two work days.
Mike has been retired for about six years. “I decided I needed a hobby. I always loved the Christmas lights on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, so I decided to pour my heart and soul into creating a Griswold Christmas in Lehi.” There are over 200 homemade decorations, a quarter of a million lights, 50 gallons of paint, and 70 artificial trees that feature scenes from National Lampoon’s, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, The Grinch, Santa’s coming to Town and the Baby Jesus and the Manger. “My goal is stop putting up lights when I can stop the FrontRunner Train,” jokes Mr. Willes.
1 – How long have you been riding?
“I just recently started riding the FrontRunner train,” says Mike. “While I was working, I had to carry over 1000 pounds of tools in my truck, so riding the train was never an option.”
2 – Why do you ride?
“I honestly started riding the train, because I wanted to see what my lights looked like from the train,” jokes Mr. Willes. “The train conductors and supervisors always called me to ask me to keep my lights up longer through the day, so I decided I needed to see what all this hype was all about. After riding the train, I plan to ride it more to family, friends and activities. It was a very comfortable and relaxing ride.”
3 – Any tips or suggestions for riders?
“When you pass by the Lehi station, make sure to take a look at my holiday lights, I decorate for every holiday with festive lights that match that season,” states Mike. “I hope other homeowners join me in an effort to spread some holiday cheer by decorating their houses for the holidays. That will make the FrontRunner ride that much more enjoyable for everyone.”
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To nominate someone for a future Rider of the Month award, please message UTA on social @RideUTA or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
James Larson is a PR Strategist for Utah Transit Authority. He has helped 200 companies grow their business by 200% over the past 20 years. He cultivated his sales and marketing skills at WSU, ad agencies, Davis Tech College and a medical manufacturer. He has a passion for telling good stories and hiking the beautiful mountains of Utah.