WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (FOX 9) - If you fly over the city of White Bear Lake, the sight of thousands of Christmas lights glowing is hard to miss.
It’s a tradition that one couple has kept going for 35 years, but 2018 will be their last.
John Cretzmeyer and Barb Jacobson have put on the display each year, but this is the grand finale. They pulled out all the stops for what they promise will be the 35th and final holiday season.
Lights in every window, every fence post and draping ever tree cover nearly every inch of their home.
“My cheap little music box that sings to 38 songs that everyone gets tired of after a while,” Cretzmeyer said. “It’s like, ‘It’s that one again!’”
Cretzmeyer says it all started in 1983 with as single strand on a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and gradually evolved to this. Over the decades, they switched from 50,000 lights to nearly 300,000 LED lights.
They added plugs and circuits in the yard just to keep the lights on. Cretzmeyer tried to retire the tradition about four hours ago, but couldn’t resist the calls from the community to continue.
“It’s been a good run,” Cretzmeyer said. “When I tried to quit last time I had such an outpouring of emotion. It was like, I’ve been coming here since I was three and now I have my 3-year-old.”
Cretzmeyer says it actually costs the same as heating his pool in the summer, so his electricity bill stays the same all year long.
He turns 70 years old Monday and, after having another knee replacement surgery, it’s getting to be too much. Cretzmeyer spends at least 150 hours between Halloween and Thanksgiving putting up these lights and having to hire some professional help for the high spots to which his wife forbids him to climb.
It has been 35 years and he hopes the White Bear Lake community has enjoyed the tradition as much as he has.
“It’s a good time to quit,” he said.
If you would like to see this display for yourself, it’s located on the west side of Bald Eagle Lake. The lights and music come on by 5 p.m. and stay on until midnight each day until the second week of January.
They aren’t going completely dark next year, as Cretzmeyer says he will keep a few trees lit.