After 38 years of sharing what grew to become one of the nation’s biggest neighborhood Christmas light displays with major holiday crowds, Deacon Dave Rezendes’ event will go dark this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rezendes, who celebrates his 38th year as a Roman Catholic deacon, is on the staff of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Livermore.
He called off the holiday light show due to concerns for the health of the dozens of volunteers who help him during the season. He reasoned that many of them are vulnerable senior citizens, and he does not want to put them in harm’s way.
Rezendes toyed with the option of turning the lights on and keeping the gates closed at his Casa del Pombo (or “House of the Dove”), so that people could still see the lights from outside of the property. But then he realized he didn’t want to draw a crowd either.
The home won’t go completely dark, however. The large dove sign — a universal symbol of peace and the Catholic sign of the inspirational Holy Spirit — will remain illuminated. He said lighting the dove sign might even give solace to those who don’t get the word about the cancellation and show up at the Livermore property on Hillcrest Avenue.
The land near his property was once home to a ranch owned by Rezendes’ parents. But they sold off some of it for housing and kept the remainder to raise animals.
The agricultural connection persists to this day. Fourth generation ranching families in Livermore think of Rezendes as the “ranchers’ deacon.”
In the past, Rezendes made sure there were always certain colors on the trees. He learned from attendees that bright red was the favorite, followed by cobalt blue. Green is in third place. Multicolored mixes score well.
People who have attended the display started their own custom — the “Proposal Bridge.” It began when a young man took Rezendes aside and asked him to delay the incoming line, so he would have the space to propose to his girlfriend. There have been 72 such proposals “officially” noted. One thing Rezendes said is certain: “The girlfriend is always surprised.”