SAN MARCOS, Calif. — Christmas has arrived on Knob Hill in San Marcos for the 34th year.
Bill Gilfillen, a retired Navy officer, has also been dubbed the “Griswald” of his neighborhood.
“I love to make people happy,” Gilfillen said.
He says he grew up in Ohio and his family would always go look at Christmas lights, and at a young age, he told his mother he would like to do this for other families. And that’s exactly what he’s done for the last 34 years.
Gilfillen estimates there is 200,000 lights on his home, roof and front yard.
He said there is usually a larger display on the roof, but he had knee surgery this year.
Like clockwork, a large crowd of people knew the lights turned on Thanksgiving night and dozens of people came out of their homes after a turkey dinner, standing in awe of Gilfillen’s creations this year.
“It’s quite a tradition for a lot of people,” said Gilfillen, who added that there has been people from other countries who have seen his lights.
Each decoration tells a story and it’s like walking through a history book of holiday lights and the history of his own family with the names of his grandchildren and godchildren.
“I usually start in the first of September but due again to my knee, I got a late start,” Gilfillen said. “Normally I have things up on the roof.”
After his surgery, neighbors even stepped in to help bring out the decorations to make sure Gilfillen could continue with this tradition.
This display honors Gilfillen’s late friend as well.
“Dick was just a good friend and such a special individual,” he said.
This display runs until December 30 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night.