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2 0 1 5 T r a d i T i o n s M a g a z i n e 5 ost families have the tradition of going down to the local Christmas parade or visiting stores that stay open late during only this time of year. others might go down to see their parents or grandparents for Christmas eve or Christmas dinner. However, some give their entire town a show, making certain that everyone has a merry Christmas. While he might wear his grinch costume out in front of his 2331 s. Jacques home, Van Crawford is not about stealing Christmas. instead, Crawford is about donations, smiles, and of course his awe- inspiring home light extravaganza. What some might not know is that with all of the donations, whether it be cash, check, food, or otherwise, Van and his wife Jan take nothing for themselves. More recently the Crawfords have col- lected nearly 300 barrels of canned goods, each of which carries between 300 and 350 pounds of food, and tens of thousands of dollars. "i was told by the Visalia rescue Mission that they have a grinch room for all the donations i've brought in," Crawford said jovially. over the years the Crawfords have gathered heartfelt story after heartfelt story. For the parents who bring their children out to enjoy the spectacle some have turned around and handed over a dona- tion of their own. "one girl got a Barbie and came up and gave it to us because she wanted the less fortunate to have it so they could have something for Christmas, too," Van reminisced. "ere was another that gave us his magic penny. To us of course it is a penny, but to him it was huge and they wanted someone else to have it." To the Crawfords, they realize that spreading the charitable spirit of Christmas is important, but what never leaves them is knowing the real life im- pact it might have on someone else. e Visalia res- cue Mission holds its own rehabilitation program that, when finished, the participants can reenter the normal ebb and flow of life. one year a graduate f rom the Mission's program arrived during one of Crawford's shows and gave him a hug, because something like this proves that he had purpose. "i'm glad i have the mask on out there, be- cause sometimes i'm crying under there," said Van. Van and Jan's purpose for their light show is crystal clear, but the amount of time and effort that goes into production is far f rom easy. For nine years people f rom all around have sat out in f ront of the Crawfords' house while he plays his guitar to Christmas tunes. With each guitar riff and beat drum, a coordination of lights and colors run round his home illuminating his porch and Christmas d├ęcor. although, little do spectators and donors realize that each song they hear and programmed light sequence they enjoy costs Crawford hours of time. according to Crawford each minute of a song takes 16-18 hours of programming. "i basically make them dance. i tell which lights to turn on, which ones to turn off and when," said Van. "i have 272 extensions going to 272 different items." Crawford has two plus miles of extension cords for the entire operation, but back in 2006 it was a lot less, and only six songs to work with. now his light show has grown to other homes. in fact, Crawford has seven other homes on the block prepared to participate with lights of their own, in coordination with Crawford's. "i'm blessed to have the neighbors that i have. ey are so into it." With so much already invested in this time of year some might wonder what is next if anything at all. However, for the Crawfords they don't see there being a limit on their holiday tradition. since the first few weeks they started to now, Van and Jan Crawford continue to put a smile of chil- dren's faces, give to the Visalia rescue Mission, and support the community they call home. He is ghoulish and green, long fingered and hairy; ask the Grinch for a gift and he'll easily parry. Often scowling and rude and seeking to steal, it would certainly seem like he has no appeal. But the Grinch of Visalia is different from most; in fact, he welcomes others and can be quite the host. Tune into 92.5 and you'll hear his songs; stand out in front and you can sing along. e Grinch's light show pops with color; all of Visalia knows there is no other. Standing about with his guitar in hand, the Grinch begins to play like a green mad man. Performing tall with lights that abound; people with spirit come full round. Folks come in and visit from all about; more than many know the route. If you're a good boy or girl who visits his lane, you'll assuredly be greeted with a candy cane. Let's not forget he accepts gifts, too, so kids during Christmas don't have to go boo-hoo! Off to the Visalia Rescue Mission they go; taking nothing off the top for his touted light show. So when you see the Grinch this year, feel free to come up and greet him with cheer. ere are plenty of gifts he has been handed, and to another family they have been granted. As these children open their gifts with glee, they certainly know the cost was not free. Instead they are paid for in generosity so kind, which these days is not so easy to find. Except for the Grinch who lives on Jacques Street, who yearly takes on this seasonal feat.

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