Sunday, December 1, 2002
New Castle, Del. 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, 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 he 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 said his favorite decorations are the 10-foot-high stockings he welded for each of his six children.
"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."
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.