When he was a kid in Tulsa, putting up lights and Christmas decorations was a time of joy for Stephen Dunkelberg.
Then his dad, the sparkplug of the decorating, died in 2004. The tradition waned.
“It was a chore to put up the tree and things like that,” Dunkelberg said, according to The Washington Post. “There was always darkness for a while.”
But now, as a 31-year-old living in Bixby, Oklahoma, the darkness has been vanquished after a labor of love in which Dunkelberg decorated all 22 houses along his street with Christmas lights.
“Whenever I would pull down my street, I’d notice my house, which is one of the first houses, and it was all lit up, and then the rest of the street was pretty dark,” Dunkelberg said, according to the New York Post.
“I just pictured in my head if every single house had Christmas lights on it, how cool it would be. And I started talking to the neighbors and they all thought it was a cool idea, too.”
After Bixby, Oklahoma, resident Stephen Dunkelberg realized his house was the only one on the block strung with Christmas lights, he asked his neighbors if he could cover their homes at no cost, and ended up illuminating the whole neighborhood.https://t.co/aR7U8V25X8
— Nice News (@nicenewshq) December 15, 2023
Last year, while he still owned a landscaping company, Dunkelberg decorated all but two homes on his street. This year, despite working in Tulsa as an accountant, he did the entire street, which took two full weekends and about 2,100 bulbs.
And in the glow, neighbors became friends.
“Some of them I’ve never talked to before, other ones I had some small talk with,” he said. “I’ve definitely gotten to know all of them a lot better by doing this.”
Kim Carroll, Dunkelberg’s neighbor, said the lights “made a big impact in our little community,” according to The Washington Post.
“It was all him,” Carroll said. “And it did bring a lot of joy. There’s several senior residents on our street, and it just meant the world to them.”
Dunkelberg said one neighbor told him she had not decorated since her husband died, and the lights Dunkelberg hung brought his memory to life.
“Little kids will come out and get excited, or grandparents will come out and get excited. Little things like that will kind of keep you going,” he said, according to KOTV-TV.
“All your tiredness and all that stuff goes away. … It gives you a little jolt of energy and makes it all worth it.”
Dunkelberg says he plans to continue the new holiday tradition.
“As long as I am comfortable climbing up on ladders and roofs, I’ll be up there doing it,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.