They’re back! All 150,000 of them.
We’re talking about the Christmas lights that transformed the Brock House every year during the holidays for more than a decade, but which went missing from twinkle-action last year. The reason: Dale Brock, who started building the yuletide attraction as his way of showing his love for his wife, unfortunately had an accident last year which left him physically unable to work on his complex Christmas project.
The lights come on for the first time this season tonight on Mercedes Avenue a block west of South Union Road. The Brock family is Manteca’s celebrated version of the mythical Griswold of National Lampoon fame as they go all out at Christmas to show their spirit.
“We decided to go another year this year, and then we’ll just play it by ear on a year-to-year basis. He was able to do it this year with the help of family members that are around, like his twin brother, Gene, his wife Gilda, my nieces and brothers-in-law,” said an ever-perky Renee whose upbeat nature always belies the fact that she is a grandmother seven times over.
Jim, one of the brothers-in-law, even went and rented a crane with a cherry-picker attachment “to make it safer” for Dale Brock to work on the taller decorative poles.
Jim’s wife Edna, “and their neighbors came over and spent the day with us (to help),” along with their friends and neighbors in Manteca “who came to help as well,” Renee said.
“It’s basically the same. It’s the same design as before; not too much really changed,” she said of what type of Christmas attraction they put together this year, with just the Santa’s Sleigh as the only décor that’s new.
“It’s a 3-D Santa’s Sleigh that people can go in and sit down and take pictures. It’s on the driveway. My friends Susan and Cathy out of Stockton painted this theme on the garage for us,” Renee explained.
The old favorites are still there: the ever-popular electric trains traversing the front and side yards, the hovering helicopters up above the rooftop, the American flag which is the main patriotic element in the entire giant tableau, and the North Pole.
However, this time, “we tried to keep the yard a little more simple this year to try to keep it uncluttered and as simple as possible,” Renee said.
Fortunately, they did not get rid of the lights and other decorative items last year when they decided to retire their annual Christmas project, so they did not have to worry about shopping for everything they needed.
“We didn’t throw away anything last year; everything was kept, although a lot of the lights are starting not to work. A lot of things are going to start needing to be replaced,” Renee explained.
A bittersweet Christmas project for the Brocks
“It’s a bittersweet kind of thing,” Renee said about the Christmas Lights project that gets started as early as the first week of September.
They have fun working on the Christmas lights; however, “the only downfall is that he (husband Dale) doesn’t get to see his grandson wrestle between September and November because he’s busy doing the construction. So there’s that sacrifice,” she said.
Three of their grandsons who are in wrestling live in San Jose. “Two of them wrestle for the Morgan Hill Rhinos,” said the proud grandmother. She and husband Dale have two daughters.
Four grandsons live here in Manteca.
“I watch them five days a week, 10 hours a day – so I’m a busy grandma – and on weekends, when they play soccer and Little League. There no rest!” Renee said with joy in her laughter.
The Brock Christmas lights will be turned on “officially on Thanksgiving Day,” and every evening from now through the week of Christmas, Renee said.
“We’ll try and get them off between 10 and 11 p.m.,” she said, although it’s always a best bet to get there before 10 o’clock at night.
“Hopefully, the turnout will be good. Hopefully nobody’s forgotten us. We’re thinking, maybe a couple more years and then, maybe, we’ll retire,” she said.