Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - December 17, 2010

Lights, camera, Christmas

Pleasanton is aglow with holiday happiness

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli Photos Cammie Clark

Decking the halls is alive and well in Pleasanton. Even the grumpiest Scrooge must smile driving through town these days -- from the charming downtown fare to the neighborhoods, not to mention the mall with its Santa centerpiece.

Bob's World has been presented by "Santa Bob" Stanley at his home at 2612 Calle Reynoso for more than 20 years. He works for five weeks of the year installing old favorites and new inspirations to offer a display that is complete with music.

Stanley says he keeps going because of the feedback he receives from charmed visitors.

"They say, 'I never thought you could outdo last year, but you did!'" Stanley said one holiday season. "It just keeps growing. Each year I try to make it different. It just keeps growing."

Stanley credits the website LightsoftheValley.com for much of the increased traffic. Alex Dourov, a Livermore resident, started the website in 1999 as a go-to guide of the best decorated homes in the Tri-Valley. It now includes much of the Bay Area and Northern California but its entries for Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley remain a valuable resource.

Dourov spends a lot of time on the website -- along with volunteer elves -- and his motivation echoes that of Santa Bob.

"It's about making people smile," Dourov said. "Not only the children, but also the adults."

Malcolm and Sandee McNeil have been decorating their home at 1279 Hearst Drive for more than 30 years, both inside and out. Each year they hold a party for the neighbors so everyone can enjoy their inside decorations, which include a display of festive nutcrackers, Christmas trees and Santas.

Also attracting throngs this year is the Widmer home at 3671 Chelsea Court. Susan Widmer says her family has been putting together the display for more than 30 years and the homemade displays now cover their entire 1-acre lot.

"It's a way for our family to give back to other families and make their holiday memorable," Widmer said.

Light up your life

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