Area homes shine bright for Christmas
Published: Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 7:20 p.m.
Sometime between getting a promotion at work, building a nursery and putting up 24,000 lights synched to music at his parents' house, David Aguilar said a little prayer.
“It's for Christmas decorators,” said Aguilar. The prayer, which he found online, asks for help balancing the demands of daily life and the flurry of holiday activities.
“It's easy to get carried away with lights and overspend,” said Aguilar, whose girlfriend's due date was Dec. 25, until this week, when her doctor told her the baby, a boy, would likely come sooner.
“She was feeling a little resentful,” he admitted. “I'm in the garage all the time working on the crib, the doors, and then I go right into the lights,” said Aguilar. “For about a month there, we kind of just passed each other.”
The determination to hang thousands of lights, coordinate their twinkling to music, and fill the lawn with giant inflatable snowmen and Nativity creches is a mystery to those content with hanging a wreath on the door and calling it Christmas.
But for homeowners who take on that herculean task year after year — including the close to 30 people whose homes are on the Christmas Lights Display map this year — it boils down to knowing the joy their efforts bring to neighbors and people they will never meet.
For the past three years, Danny Dvorak, 19, has been in charge of setting up his family's light display. Dvorak's neighbors — especially one 5-year-old girl across the street — let him know how much his work means to them.
“Before I put the lights up [this year], the people across the street asked if I was going to do it again,” said Dvorak, who attends Santa Fe College. “Their little girl wouldn't go to sleep until she saw the lights [last year].”
Dvorak, who works for Keith Watson Productions, an event planning company, begins the process the day after Thanksgiving. His sister Anna, 20, said their father used to manage the decorations. When their parents divorced three years ago, Anna said Danny took on the task and has added lawn ornaments including reindeer, gifts and, of course, more lights.
“He took it to the next level,” said Anna Dvorak. “He was pushing us to stay positive and remember how much we love this holiday, and to remember that family and Christmas are synonymous.”
The light display at the Martin house on Northwest 16th Place is several thousand lights strong, although Sandy Martin said she's never really counted. Her daughter, Rebecca, 20, puts them up a little at a time.
“She loves putting up lights,” said Martin. “We do Halloween lights and she wanted to put up more lights for the kids in the community.”
Rebecca, who is a second-degree black belt in karate and a first-degree black belt in weapons, also has an inoperable brain tumor. She goes to therapy every week at Shands at the University of Florida.
“The exercise and breathing kind of helps,” said Sandy Martin. “She still wants to do stuff. She's not letting it get her down.”
The family's light display was completed last week and can be seen from Northwest 43rd Street.
Most of those who responded to The Sun's call for light displays this year admitted the task can be cumbersome. But they all shared a simple sentiment.
“Lights are special to me,” said Danny Dvorak. “They make people happy, and they make me happy. They're a tradition.”