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Del. Man Lights Up Town for Holidays

November 30, 2002

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NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) _ There’s no sleigh in the driveway, but a rusting blue Ford pickup with a license tag reads ``Santa C.″

Rich Faucher, neighborhood Santa Claus, works his own magic with cables, motors, steel rods, pipes, wood, plastic figurines, garlands and lights.

Every holiday season he tries to top the Christmas display he presented the year before at his New Castle home. On the day after Thanksgiving, he turns it on.

``In order to stay creative, you’ve got to challenge yourself,″ said Faucher, who works at the Boeing helicopter factory in Ridley Park, Pa.

Just how many lights? Faucher said he hit the million mark a few years ago, but otherwise doesn’t get caught up in numbers.

Some might think Faucher’s display is kitschy and over the top; for others, it’s a must-see tradition. For Faucher, 44, it’s a big birthday party and everyone is invited.

``I think it’s a great thing,″ said neighbor Mike Chupka, 26.

Faucher’s tradition began 23 years ago when he and his wife, Linda, were living in New Jersey and celebrating the birth of their first child. Faucher drove his infant daughter around to look at Christmas lights, but didn’t find many.

``I was a new dad and I was frustrated,″ said Faucher, who promptly headed to a hardware store, bought 10,000 lights, and decorated the front of his apartment building.

``It just kept growing and growing, and before you know it, we got big tourist buses,″ said Linda, 40.

Faucher now begins planning his Christmas displays in the heat of summer.

``It consumes most of my time between September and February,″ he said.

Faucher said his favorite decorations are the 10-foot-high stockings he welded for each of his six children. The display changes every year, but the stockings are a fixture.

``That’s kind of a personal thing,″ he said. ``No matter how big it gets, I’ll always be just a dad who’s doing it for my kids.″

The display is powered by a pair of 200-amp service units Faucher installed with the help of his father, an electrician, and run by a remote control.

When the display is complete and the lights are on, a costumed Faucher takes his place in a small garage transformed by his daughters into Santa’s hut, listening to the dreams of hundreds of children.

``You’d be amazed at what a child asks Santa Claus,″ said Faucher.

And every Christmas Eve, Faucher prays.

``I ask God, ’You take these hugs that these kids have given to me, and you deliver them.‴


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