Now, 19 years later, the Christmas light display at Earl Sassman’s Memory Farm at 3446 Point Pleasant Road in Elk Grove has grown to 150,000 lights and can be seen from miles away.
On October 1 every year, a crew of 10 family members and close friends begin the daunting task of unloading, constructing, hoisting, trenching, landscaping, stringing and hanging decorations, creating such impressive displays as a lit tractor driven by Santa;
A train with plumes of real smoke coming from its smokestack;
An airplane on a runway with propeller turning;
A Ferris wheel;
And a small forest of memory trees where visitors can write messages on blank wooden bell ornaments in honor of their lost loved ones.
There are over 45,000 ornaments that are cataloged and stored to be redisplayed each year.
The light spectacular is 1 percent away from maxing out the power supply put in specifically to provide for its electrical needs.
Dorita Sassman explained that the memory trees had been her mother Judy’s idea after the death of her daughter, Rhonda, in 1992.
When they lost Judy to a stroke in 1997, the family began the new tradition of erecting a live 33-foot memory tree in her honor each year.
Large golden bells display messages from Judy’s children and grandchildren, and the 5-foot angel on top holds an ornament with a message from her husband Earl.
The Sassman Memory Farm is open until Saturday, weekdays from 5:15-9:30 p.m. and Christmas Eve from 5:15-8 p.m.
Come on down, Santa’s waiting!