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Citrus Heights homeowner hopes light display shines positivity amid pandemic

John Barth stands outside his Citrus Heights home on Orelle Creek Ct., which is annually decorated each Christmas. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip —
Residents of Orelle Creek Court in Citrus Heights have been putting up Christmas lights for decades, attracting thousands to drive or walk by each year. This year, however, will be a little different because of COVID-19.

John Barth, who lives at the corner of Orelle Creek Court and Old Auburn Road, has still hung lights and placed lawn figures out, but he’s skipping the popcorn and hot chocolate this year. He’s also encouraging people gathering to see the festive displays to drive through as much as possible, rather than walk.

The residential street has become a well-known destination for sight seers looking for light displays. Barth said interest has grown since his house was featured on CBS 13’s “The 12 Daves of Christmas.”

Barth said with the coronavirus pandemic putting a damper on the holidays, the light displays on his street are “something that we need right now.”

“We need something positive in our lives, something that people can look at, smile, and enjoy,” he said in an interview with The Sentinel on Wednesday.

A few houses down, neighbor Chris Alford has also decorated his yard, opting for a more prominent Christmas message with Scripture and a nativity scene.

“It’s a joyful thing indeed to see somebody’s eyes light up,” said Alford, who is a pastor. “We always put a little bit of the Christian message in, and (to) hear people read Scripture or their eyes light up when they see the manger, makes it all worth while.”

Barth’s display at the corner has slowly grown each year since 1979. A prominent feature is a large tree in the front yard with lights and a star at the top. Barth said he planted the tree in 1981 for the sole purpose of hanging lights during Christmas.

He’s added more lights over the years, which raised his electric bill to a high of about $600 for the month of December in previous years, according to Barth. Now, with solar and LED lights, it cuts the bill down to about $200.

Each year gets a little more difficult for the 67-year-old. He said next year might be the last for the big Christmas tree. His lift can’t quite reach the top of the tree, and he said his knees are a little more shaky than they were in previous years. But bringing joy to people is what keeps him going.

“It’s unbelievable what goes on out here in the community and they love it. And we love it. It’s getting harder, but we’re not going to stop until we can’t get up to do it.”

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