Santa Rosa Coffey Park residents get into holiday spirit despite losing homes

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Residents of Coffey Park did their best to get into the holiday spirit Sunday night.

A patch of snow quickly put smiles on the children's faces, and so did a visit with Santa.

Coffey Park residents who lost everything in the North Bay Fires returned to their neighborhood for some holiday fun, and for many it was bittersweet.

"It makes me sad too to not have the traditions that we've had before, but it's fun to see to see my kids playing in the snow and having fun," said fire victim Whitney Richter.

Organizers called it "Coffey Park Celebration of Hope", an event made possible by the generosity of others. From the food to the toys, everything was donated. People also donated Christmas trees. They were given to anyone who wanted to put one on their property. So far, about 140 trees have been given away, which helped transform the fire-ravaged subdivision into a place filled with holiday spirit.

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"You add Christmas trees, you play music, you invite people out, and this is what you get. This neighborhood is alive again. The first time after the fire, the neighborhood is alive," said Ronnie Duvall, organizer of the event.

Travis Garrison lost his home and so did two of his family members. Seeing the neighborhood come together for this holiday event reminded him why he wants to come back.

"I don't want to leave this community," said Garrison. "I've been here for 30 years and I grew up here and I'd love to have a family and raise them right up here at Coffey Park."

Reconstruction for some could begin as early as spring, but for now, residents are finding comfort spreading holiday cheer with their old neighbors.

Click here for a look back at ABC7 News' comprehensive coverage on the North Bay fires.
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