Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - December 2, 2011

Grand opening tonight for Christmas display

Deacon Dave in Livermore draws tens of thousands each year

Tonight at 6:30 p.m. is the grand opening for what is being billed as the biggest and best holiday display in Livermore: the front yard of Deacon Dave Rezendes' home at 352 Hillcrest Ave., Casa del Pomba or House of the Dove.

The festively decorated home is visited by tens of thousands of guests each year, and is now in its 29th year. The theme changes each year, and is always kept a secret until opening night ceremonies, a fun event for the whole family.

Tonight the home and yard will be dark as a candlelight procession makes its way down the blocked off street. Members of the community are welcome to join the procession, which will feature the St. Michael's choir leading Deacon Dave and Santa and Mrs. Claus to the home. The Handbell Choir from Asbury United Methodist Church will also perform.

There will be a blessing of the lights, the theme will be announced, and then the lights will be turned on. At that time, guests are invited to walk through the yard.

"It is a spectacular evening, a perfect way to get in the holiday spirit," reported organizers in a press release.

Members of the nonprofit group, Good News Bears, which provides teddy bears to hurt, traumatized or abused children as well as adults, will serve refreshments tonight. Visitors wishing to support the group are invited to bring a new stuffed animal or cash donation to help them meet the ever-increasing need for "stuffed love" at shelters, hospitals, and emergency services.

In 2010, the theme was "The Sounds of Christmas" with scenes throughout the yard depicting some of the crew's favorite Christmas carols. Guests entered through a two-story building with matching octagon towers, and on the second floor, doors opened to reveal an animated choir conductor.

As visitors progressed down the driveway, they saw a "Twelve Days of Christmas" tree, "Frosty the Snowman" and even "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." The roof of the house featured Santa Claus going up and down a chimney. "Jingle Bells" was depicted with a sleigh being pulled by a near life-size papier mache horse.

The exit building was a tribute to U.S. military personnel with a soldier coming home to surprise his family to "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Throughout the yard there were more than 325,000 lights glowing and lighting up the night sky.

"How many lights this year? What is the theme? You'll have to stop by and find out," organizers said. "More and more LED lights are added each year. This year, each light is not only a prayer for peace, but for our future -- our youth. Approximately 30 volunteers work hard throughout the year to put on the display. Be sure to walk through to gain the total experience."

Crew members are often on hand to answer questions. They wear red "Casa del Pomba" ball caps or jackets.

Santa also loves to visit, and makes times in his busy schedule to stop by often during the season. This year, he plans on greeting guests young and old Friday, Dec. 9; Thursday, Dec. 15; Saturday, Dec. 17; and Tuesday, Dec. 20, starting about 7 p.m. Plus he often drops in unannounced. Mrs. Claus loves the beautiful lights and story that is told every year, too, so she often joins Santa.

The display will remain until Jan. 1; hours are 6-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 6-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The gates may be closed during inclement weather, although every effort is made to leave the lights glowing.

There is no admission charge. All the donations collected in the coin toss, ponds and at the door are for Santa's Secret Service, a program that has provided visiting Santas, carolers and gifts to area nursing homes, shelters, and hospitals for over 50 years.

Visit www.casadelpomba.com for more information on the display, Santa's Secret Service, and Deacon Dave's family history. It also has a webcam set up so fans can check out the display and its visitors at any time.

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