CLEVELAND — If you're looking for a dazzling holiday lights display in Northeast Ohio, Seabury Avenue in the Fairview Park suburb of Cleveland is a must-add to your list.
What started as a continued family tradition for Bill McVicker has now transformed into him helping more than 1,000 area homes light up the night with beautiful sidewalk garland displays, drawing crowds that often roll through the neighborhood in limousines, shuttle buses, and even the occasional full-sized bus.
Bill, whose love for holiday decorating began with his grandfather's elaborate displays upon his grandmother's request for a "windmill" in Buffalo in 1953, now runs the Fairview Park Holiday Lights Facebook page, where people come for updates and also to find out how to get in on the action, themselves.
Much like his grandfather all those years ago, with each passing season Bill's display has grown, and with it, the involvement of his community, along with support for a local charity benefiting people who are food insecure.
In 2015, when the Seabury Avenue light show started getting attention on social media and people started asking, "Why can't my street be like this?", Bill offered to help get supplies to other places, and this year alone, he has organized group purchases adding up to over $40,000 in décor.
"I can say in all honesty that when I think about the story, and am in the Elf Tent, or driving down Seabury, or around Fairview Park, I never fail to get tears in my eyes," Bill tells 3News. "Call me a sap, but it is just such an amazing tale that it has turned out to be."
Yes, you read that right. There is an Elf Tent. In that tent, located at Bill's home at 21869 Seabury Avenue, people walking along can stop in to say hello to Bill, and his wife, Diane, grab a free cup of chocolate, and snag a bag of "magic reindeer food" for their kids.
And while there's no charge to enjoy the holiday cheer on display in Bill's neighborhood, Bill says over the years as the involvement has grown, people have asked to leave donations, which he now delivers to the Fairview Park Hunger Center.
Bill and Diane started putting up their beautiful display mostly on their own in 2011, with the neighbors starting to get involved in 2012. In the early days, they collected a couple hundred dollars from enthusiastic fans and would use it to help out a friend who may have had a particularly rough holiday. But when things started picking up in 2015 and 2016, and he collected around $1,000 for the first time, he felt he had to find a place within the community that could use a boost.
Bill tells me that over the past three seasons, the light display on Seabury Avenue has encouraged people to donate a total of almost $5,100 to the local cause.
So if you're looking for a beautiful drive or stroll to take in holiday lights in Cleveland this holiday season, you'll be in good company if you stop by Seabury Avenue.
And feel free to pop into the Elf Tent, where Bill will be happy to tell you all about how this Fairview Park tradition began more than 60 years ago, in Buffalo, New York, with his grandfather, his grandmother and a garden-sized windmill.
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Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published, unrelated story.