LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Deacon Dave's Christmas Light Display has been an extravagant and over-the-top holiday tradition for 37 years.
Each year, Deacon Dave and his volunteers assemble a special Christmas theme display as a holiday gift to their community.
"The display started when I was ordained in 1982 and that was the first year of the display," said Deacon David A. Rezendes. "I was very involved in the environment committee for Saint Michael's and decorating the Catholic Church but I wanted to do something even broader than that. In assembling all walks of life and all faiths. I think it is a growing an experience that we share among ourselves."
Traditionally, Deacon Dave and his volunteers start building the display on Labor Day Weekend but, due to the magnitude of this year's theme, they started two months early.
"Each year the light count goes up," said Rezendes. "I can tell you that we had 610,000 lights last year and we expect to exceed that."
The hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights is not the only thing that makes Deacon Dave's Christmas Light Display so special. All donations go to Santa's Secret Service at Saint Michael's Church in Livermore. The 60-year-old organization delivers gifts to people in hospitals, rest homes, and youth centers.
A special letter box is placed by the front door so children can write letters to Santa. "I have good connections with the North Pole," said Rezendez. "If they put their return address, Santa will answer those letters."
Deacon Dave's Christmas Light Display is known for bringing out the magic of Christmas. In the middle of the display is a famous proposal bridge. As of last year, there have been over 71 proposals that have taken place of the bridge.
This year, the Deacon and his volunteers have dedicated each light as a prayer for finding a cure for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and cancer.
"Our team puts this together as a sign of hope," said Rezendez. "I have an awesome team and the reason that they bring this together with their unique gifts and talents is for the people. That is what it's all about, giving to the people that come through and for them to have a Christmas experience."
Many volunteers have been part of assembling the Christmas display for decades and love spreading the Christmas cheer.
"It just warms my heart to see the faces of everyone," said Holly Loberg, who has been volunteering at Deacon Dave's for fifteen years. "You go anywhere in this community and it brings what Christmas is all about. It is the joy, it is the giving that we give and we get in return."
"You see people with families and all together and, when they come in, it's like everything else in the world is behind them," said Eric Lessard, a volunteer at Deacon Dave's. "They can focus on Christmas and the joy that it brings them. It's a great atmosphere and loving area."
If you would like to visit or donate to Deacon Dave's Christmas Light Display, it is located at: 352 Hillcrest Ave. in Livermore.
All donations go to Santa's Secret Service, an organization who delivers Christmas gifts to those in need. The display will be open every night through January 1.
For more information, visit Deacon Dave's website.