A deacon’s dazzling Christmas light display

A California deacon is making a splash, and spreading a lot of light:

More than 30,000 people are expected to visit Deacon Dave’s “Casa del Pomba” Christmas lights display in Livermore. This year’s theme is “Elfland,” and features 345,300 Christmas lights, making it one of the largest displays in the Bay Area. Casa del Pomba is located at 352 Hillcrest Avenue, in Livermore. . This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Rezendes’s ordination as a deacon in the Catholic Church.

More, from the Contra Costa Times:

In 1982, newly ordained Livermore deacon Dave Rezendes set up a modest elf village at his home to celebrate Christmas. He had no way of knowing then that he’d begun a tradition that would last for three decades, outshining even some of the nation’s largest displays.

“It had nothing to do with being ordained; I just put up a few lights,” Rezendes said. “It grew from there.”

Now with 345,000 lights, the elaborate spectacle at “Casa del Pomba” — Rezendes’ home at 352 Hillcrest Ave. — draws about 40,000 visitors a year and has been featured on cable and international TV. In 2003, HGTV ranked it among the 10 biggest home displays in the U.S.

It dwarfs the National Christmas Tree and its 80,000 ights; even the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records falls short, listing an Australian as the residential record holder for lights with 331,038.

Though he has been encouraged to go after the world’s top spot, Rezendes says it’s not about being the biggest or the best.

“It’s about getting people in the Christmas spirit,” he said. “It makes more of an impact than we realize.”

Rezendes, who serves at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Livermore, has collected lots of stories over the years. One unemployed and depressed man told him the display changed his life. A woman whose husband had died in a car crash cried tears of joy upon returning to a spot they had both loved. Another woman, beaten black and purple, dropped to her knees and hugged the deacon’s leg, taking the lights as a sign to escape from her abusive husband.

Even the nonreligious, Rezendes said, report being drawn in by “a presence.”

“[The beauty] is in the hearts and minds of the visitors,” Rezendes said. “The children, when you see their eyes, you know it’s worth it.”

Check out more pictures, by Doug Duran, here.  And you can also visit the deacon’s website for more information.

As an aside: In the pictures, the deacon seems to be wearing a short shoulder cape, almost like a mozzetta.  If you visit the slideshow, you’ll also see that he has built a personal “Chapel of the Holy Spirit” on the property of his home in Livermore, California.