OBX’s special ‘Christmas Houses’
Michael Coley’s Manns Harbor Christmas show

By on December 9, 2023

Manns Harbor Christmas Lights (Photo credit: Michael Coley)
Manns Harbor Christmas Lights (Photo credit: Michael Coley)
Manns Harbor Christmas Lights (Photo credit: Michael Coley)
Manns Harbor Christmas Lights (Photo credit: Michael Coley)
Manns Harbor Christmas Lights (Photo credit: Michael Coley)
Manns Harbor Christmas Lights (Photo credit: Michael Coley)
Manns Harbor Christmas Lights (Photo credit: Michael Coley)
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(This is part of an ongoing Voice series on the OBX’s special ‘Christmas Houses’)

Towering Christmas trees made from telephone poles, oversized candy canes crafted from PVC pipes, synchronized lights matched perfectly to classic Christmas songs and a message on a lit-up sign reading “Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward all Mankind.” Those are just a few of the elements creating a festive and magical atmosphere at the Manns Harbor Christmas Lights.

Located at the Manns Harbor Post Office and surrounding properties, the display is on every day from sunset until 9:30 throughout the month of December.

Michael Coley, 37, a landscaper by trade who looks after the properties, has been decorating the Post Office itself for 15 years. “And of course, every year has grown pretty tremendously, actually. By far, this year is much bigger than last year, and every year so far keeps getting bigger as I go along,” says Coley, adding that the set-up took seven weeks this year.

A tiny, charming, historic building, the Manns Harbor Post Office has a history all its own. And it may not be what viewers expect when thinking of the typical modern day post office.

According to the book “Manns Harbor Fishing Village: A Tribute to Old Croatan” by Melvin Twiddy, the post office was built in 1932, moved down the road from its original location around 1950, and renovated in 1987 after it was crashed into by a tractor-trailer.

Despite its small size, Coley believes he managed to fit around 100,000 lights on the Post Office building alone. And using a computer board, he makes the facility “dance” to more than 20 Christmas songs as the lights flash with the music.

The display also includes his property across the street, as well as the yards on his left and right, and the yard behind the Post Office. On the property across from the facility, Coley has constructed multiple lit-up Christmas trees, including the newest addition, which is a whopping 33 feet, a new 20-foot candy cane and multiple large snowflakes, snowmen, and presents, along with the “Mankind” sign.

The 33-foot tree was built right before Christmas last year. And Coley laments that it was only on display for a few days before a Christmas storm blew through and tore it down.

“And very few people actually got to see it. But this year I built it much, much stronger and much better,” says Coley. “So hopefully, it can withstand Mother Nature around here because Mother Nature is very brutal on the Outer Banks at times.” He adds that weather is his biggest challenge, with his home and Post Office not having much to protect them from the elements.

This year, there have also been a lot of rainy days. For this reason, Coley has set up a Facebook page to keep the public informed on any night when the display may need to be turned off due to inclement weather.

Another concern is safety. Coley cautions the public to find a parking spot at the Post Office or park somewhere safe on the side of the road and to never stop on the highway. Two years ago, he recalls a three-car pileup resulting from people stopping their car in the middle of the road to look at the lights.

Coley, who designs, builds, sets up and maintains everything himself, (except for the “Mankind” sign), spends every night of the holidays in his garage building and fixing various parts of the display. He says he can’t imagine how many hours and money he’s actually put into it.

“We all have habits, and we all have addictions…this one’s mine,” says Coley. Lucky for the Outer Banks, his addiction is one that brings joy to the entire community. There is a donation box on site where the public can help Coley with things like the electricity bill.

Coley bought his first set of lights when he was just a little boy, “which sounds kind of crazy, because how many kids are spending money on buying a set of lights,” he notes. “And then one or two people would give me a random set of lights. And it just kind of sort of grew from that. And then it just grew to what it is today.”

“I’ve aways been very creative anyways,” Coley explains. “So to me, when I build it, I look at it like a picture. So, everything has to have a flow…I have a vision in my head. And then I’m like, ‘okay, how to kind of make it go from there?’”

The Manns Harbor Post Office is located at 6941 US HIGHWAY 64, Manns Harbor.

SEE ALSO: OBX’s special ‘Christmas Houses’: The Facendas’ Kitty Hawk Christmas Land

OBX special “Christmas Houses” : From ‘Hands of Gold’ to a heart of gold, Proceeds from Mennicucci Christmas House go to fight hunger

OBX’s special ‘Christmas Houses’: The Facendas’ Kitty Hawk Christmas Land



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).



  • Johnny Allen

    This is great! Check out 1200 Clamshell Drive in KDH! We do it for the kids and we love Christmas!

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 3:35 pm
  • Glenn

    Beautiful! More and more homes are putting up Christmas lights…so very pretty. Merry Christmas to all!

    Saturday, Dec 9 @ 4:13 pm