By Derek M. Otto
Since his earliest memories, Jim Jozwiak says he has been fascinated by Christmas lights. He remembers checking the bulbs with his grandfather and later helping his brothers decorate the house they lived in as a kid. But it was his late wife Deb that truly started the fascination. “ She was the original Christmas kid,” he said.
The true inspiration for the display that Jozwiak has built up for many years was a trip that he and Deb took to Frankenmuth, MI, not only known for the largest Oktoberfest in America, but also having largest German Christmas Market in the United States. Jozwiak recalled, “The lighting they had there my wife loved and we started from there.”
The first show was a store-bought kit that had six songs and played chime music from a small speaker. It had only four channels, or the outlets you plug lights into. As one could imagine, Jim said, “It drove us crazy in the house.”
In 2009, Deb had to undergo a kidney transplant and could not go outside. Jim did some research and bought a “Light-o-Rama” with 16 channels and an FM transmitter. No longer would the neighbors be bothered with the music chiming; visitors could listen to the music from the warmth of their cars.
When asked about the financial investment that he has put into the show, Jim said, “I do not want to think about the money I have invested over the years; that is not why I did this in the first place.”
The timing of the show and synchronizing everything is a huge time investment. Not everything that Jim has in the show has been bought by him. Jim’s parents bought the tree and lantern from an individual— they happen to be pieces from the original Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls.
The light show is also a really great place for people in the community to enjoy some decorations from their past as well. Not to mention, Jim has some of the older decorations from the village and, “thanks to the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce, the gate decorations that stood at the entrances of town.”
When asked if he is bothered by the lights, Jim responded that Deb had bought room-darkening curtains for the house. It operates both ways— the lights from the house do not interfere with the display and vice versa.
While there is seemingly not much for Jim to see or hear while inside the house, that does make one wonder if the neighbors are ever bothered by the display. Jozwiak compliments, “My neighbors have been great too. One neighbor, Adam Trautman, has been a big help over years. He started helping when he was five.”
Jim asks that people do not turn around in his neighbor’s driveways or block them. He also reminds people to obey traffic laws and be respectful to each other.
After the Christmas Season, Jim leaves the red blue and white lights up. They are lit on patriotic holidays to honor the men and women serving or that have served our country.
In 2011, with Deb’s health improving and the desire to give back and help others, prompted the Jozwiaks to start an annual food drive. Jim stated, “I belong to several service and civic organizations and didn’t want to take away from others’ traditions and projects. The food drive fit.” From 2011 to last year’s display, they have collected 3,653 food items and a total of 3,301 pounds of food for our local food pantries.
As many know, the light display almost did not happen this year. Deb Jozwiak passed away suddenly this fall. Jim lost all interest in Christmas; it was Deb’s favorite holiday. Thirty or so friends pushed him to get up and get going again. “Considering that Deb always wanted a kick-off party, we decided that this would be a great way to honor her,” said Jim.
On Nov. 27, 2016 Jim with his family and friends had the party. They also included a cross in memory of Deb; she, too, is now part of the display.
Jim would like to extend a thank you to all that have helped decorate, donated money or food and continue to make the Mill St. Light Show a success.
The light show can be seen evenings now through the end of December at 14048 Mill Street in Springville. Stop by (be sure to bring some non-perishable food items to drop in the donation box!), turn your radio to 90.5 FM and enjoy!
For more info, visit the show’s Facebook page (Jozwiak’s Mill Street Light Show).