ANAHEIM, Calif. — There was a time when Bruce Townsend’s home was not the brightest one on the block.

“The idea of decorating your house seemed like so much work. You put it up. A few weeks later, you take it down and what’s the point of doing all that?” said Bruce Townsend.

Townsend purchased his home in the city of Anaheim’s historic colony in 2003. He said the most festive thing he and his wife would do all year was put up a Christmas tree inside their home. However, that changed in 2018 when his then 2-year-old son Mateo stumbled on a YouTube video featuring a house decked out with dancing lights.

“I couldn’t get his attention or nothing. He was so fascinated by all these blinking lights going on, and I said to myself how hard can that be?” said Townsend.
His son unboxed a passion in him for bringing joy to people’s lives that he did not know he had.

Townsend said his Christmas decorations for their first year was simple, but decided to step it up in 2019.

Residents in the city took notice and nominated Townsend’s home. He earned the most votes and earned the WOW Factor Award by the city of Anaheim’s Holiday Lights Contest.

Townsend recalls being told by a city official that his house was the most decorated home in all of Anaheim. 

“I won that? I was stunned because I have never won anything like that. I was just overwhelmed,” said Townsend. 


He works 40 hours a week and spends the same amount time designing the layout of his Christmas light show on his laptop and computer.

“I’ve worked a year to get all this stuff done. My wife lost a husband. My son lost a dad. So I tried to make it up whenever I could, but trying to get this thing all done,” said Townsend.

That passion turned into an escape for him this year.

“My brother-in-law passed away. My mother-in-law passed died at just the end of last year so that was a hard time for us. Then this pandemic came over and it hit everything,” said Townsend.

His light show, which he has titled the Anaheim Historic Colony Christmas Light Show, started out as something he did just for his son Mateo who is now 4 years old, but he has since realized that his lights are not his.

“That’s the thing. It is not my light show. It’s the community’s,” said Townsend.

He plans to take advantage of his work-from-home beard he grew, by dressing up as Santa Claus a couple times a week to greet people who stop by his home.

Townsend hopes his lights will give people who have felt like this year was dark, a moment of peace and light like it has done for his own family.

You nominate Townsend for the city of Anaheim’s Holiday Lights Contest, online