All good things must come to an end -- and this will be the last year for Bob Stanley's holiday lights extravaganza in Pleasanton. Dubbed Bob's World, it has delighted area residents each holiday season for more than 30 years.
Stanley paused in this year's preparations last Saturday to verify that, yes, he was assembling the display for the last time.
"It's time to step back and enjoy the holidays myself," he said. "I'm trying to get it ready."
Many people volunteer to help, he noted, but he prefers to go solo, explaining with a laugh: "I never know what I'm doing."
First he wires the front yard, which takes three days, then he moves on from there. The entire setup takes about three months and will be ready for the public Dec. 13.
"It's just time," agreed his wife Cathy. "He's 73 years old and should not be on a roof."
Bob's World has been drawing an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 visitors, who fill the surrounding streets with their cars as droves of people park and walk to enjoy the display each year. Each part is animated and lights up, plus every child who visits Bob's World is treated to a candy cane or small toy.
But the visitors aren't all children. Numerous East Bay senior homes create a special holiday excursion for their residents, as well as groups celebrating birthday parties, and limousines full of holiday revelers.
The Stanleys, who have two sons and one granddaughter, say their interest in holiday lights began many years ago when one of their sons put a string of holiday lights in his room. That expanded throughout the interior of the house until it glowed with 5,000 holiday lights.
"It was time to move it outside," Bob said.
The outdoor display grew and grew -- and grew. The Stanleys don't know how many lights there are but expect that it is in the thousands. Also a secret is how the display impacts their utility bill in December. Although he won't share the amount, Bob did say that the new LED lights are more cost-effective than those used in years past.
Stanley, who is retired from the commercial furnishings business, says he learned by trial and error in designing and installing the displays. In the early days, they were constructed of wood, which didn't withstand heavy winds and rain. Today's displays have wire frames.
The Stanleys will announce the sale of their Bob's World displays on the website known as California Christmas Lights (CaliforniaChristmasLights.com) operated by Alex Dourov, which tells folks where to find the homes with the best holiday decorations.
Stanley is known as Santa Bob by the neighborhood kids -- indeed there is a resemblance -- and both he and Cathy have wonderful memories from their decades of hosting Bob's World. Cathy recalled when a young soldier in uniform who had just returned from the Middle East knocked on the door with his young brother, hoping to get a photo with Santa Bob to give to their mom for Christmas.
Put Bob's World on your calendar and enjoy its final year at 2612 Calle Reynoso. Starting Dec. 13, the display will be lit from 6-9 p.m. each Sunday through Thursday, and from 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays before the lights dim for good at 10 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 30.
After this, Stanley looks forward to traveling during the last quarter of the year in the future.
"We love Christmas, and we've both enjoyed the opportunity to share the excitement of the season with our friends and neighbors," he said.