BRANT LAKE - Returning from a vacation Dec. 14, Bob Hayes was surprised with an early Christmas present he'll never forget - a gift from relatives, neighbors and community members.
Pulling into his driveway, Hayes was surprised with a brand new, spacious garage - adorned with a big red bow - standing where his old, deteriorating one stood just two weeks earlier, he recalled.
"It was some surprise all right," Hayes said. "I was flabbergasted, to say the least."
The garage and the concrete pad underneath was built by his sons Jim and Mike Hayes and Joe McGee with the help of friends, neighbors, local firefighters and local citizens. The demolition of the old structure was accomplished by Bernie Bolton, the son of Hayes' wife Shirley.
Shirley Hayes said she was thrilled with the sight of the new garage, even though she'd been one of those plotting the surprise, and had signed the building permit.
"You have no idea how our hearts throbbed with joy," she said, noting the new structure was complete with motorized overhead doors.
Bob Hayes noted the new one directed accumulated snow and rain away from the driveway, rather than into it. The new one can accommodate two cars easily, unlike the former which was built 70 years ago by his father Edson Hayes, he said.
Shirley Hayes said she was overcome with gratitude over all the help from friends and neighbors.
"This made us feel pretty loved," she said. "We live in a wonderful community."