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Magical Christmas Light Display Raises Money to Feed the Hungry

December 4, 2010

SUNNYVALE, CA. – Dave Severns is using the power of 88,000 Christmas lights to feed a lot of hungry people in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Severns is creator of the Severns-Pease Christmas Display at 1164 and 1168 Tangerine Way in Sunnyvale. This year his goal is to raise $80,000 for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties through donations from people who come to enjoy the elaborate display.

The popular holiday exhibit started as a modest installation of lights 15 years ago and has grown into one of the largest, most creative computer-automated local holiday displays in the area.  It’s so big it covers the house, roof and yard of Severns home, and the house and yard of his next-door neighbors, the Pease family.
“It’s always a work in progress, so what you saw in 1995 doesn’t resemble what you see now,” Severns said.

With “snow” blowing from where an automated Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer sits perched on top of Severns’ garage, to cute joking elves, to the 88,000 lights choreographed to rousing music, the display is extremely popular with both kids and adults alike.

When record crowds started streaming down Tangerine Way in 2002 – the first year Severns computerized the display – friends told him he should sell tickets. Severns wasn’t comfortable making money off the display, but he decided that asking for donations to help a worthy cause was a good idea.

Based on his experience leading food drives for Second Harvest at Applied Materials where he worked as an engineer, Severns put out food collection barrels and a secured box to collect money. That first year they raised $8,000 in a combined total of food and money.

“Every year since we’ve done better than the previous year, even in the economic downturn, which really surprised me,” he said. Last year the display took in more than $54,000.


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