Help­ing make the sea­son bright!

North Penn Life - - Front Page - By Amanda Pic­cir­illi apic­cir­illi@jour­nalregis­ter.com

the fa­mil­iar say­ing “like fa­ther, like son” re­lates to thou­sands through­out the coun­try and there is one lo­cal fam­ily who has proven this true, es­pe­cially through ex­te­rior il­lu­mi­na­tion.

Thirty years ago this win­ter, Wil­liam Dre­lick, of Am­bler, wowed his neigh­bors with an im­pres­sive light dis­play that would be­come a sta­ple in the com­mu­nity for three decades. It was the start of a Dre­lick fam­ily tra­di­tion in which Christ­mas lights and push-but­ton in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays spread hol­i­day cheer to all who visit.

“This all started back in 1983,” said Joe Dre­lick, Wil­liam’s son. “I re­mem­ber spend­ing hours with my dad, set­ting up the house and adding items to the lawn. We would build the dis­play and add more each year. My dad re­tired two years ago and came up here to Har­leysville. I have al­ways put Christ­mas lights on my house, but it was just re­cently I added the push but­tons.”

What was once a treat for Am­bler res­i­dents is now a new ex­pe­ri­ence for Towa­mencin neigh­bors and those in sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Sit­ting at 1800 Dutch­mans Cir­cle in Towa­mencin is Joe Dre­lick’s home — a hol­i­day light dis­play that goes from house to yard, il­lu­mi­nat­ing more than 19,500 Christ­mas lights and pro­vid­ing 14 scener­ies for guests to see.

“I start pulling dec­o­ra­tions out in Au­gust to paint and touch up, get­ting ev­ery­thing ready,” said Joe Dre­lick. “By mid-Septem­ber, I am putting things up on the yard and there are 10,000 lights in place by Hal­loween. At the end of sum­mer, I am usu­ally lis­ten­ing to Christ­mas mu­sic; I’m sure my wife wants to kill me.”

The Dre­licks switched to LED lights a cou­ple years ago and it has cut their elec­tric bill by more than $200.

With more than 200 hours of prepa­ra­tion, a week of Joe’s work va­ca­tion time used and nearly 20,000 lights need­ing to be tested and set up, this is not a one man job — it’s a fam­ily ef­fort.

Jake Dre­lick, 11, gets into the spirit as well.

“Both Joe and I know he en­joys help­ing out and we do hope he con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion, but of course we won’t force him,” said Jake’s mom, Tracy.

“If he does de­cide to con­tinue it’ll be nice to know [dec­o­rat­ing] is off my hands and I pray [Jake’s] wife has pa­tience,” said Tracey.

But just like his fa­ther, Jake lives for the hol­i­day sea­son and trans­form­ing his home into a com­mu­nity mas­ter­piece. He helps with all of the plas­tic items, plac­ing items in the lawn and stay­ing away from heavy items so he doesn’t get hurt. He also helps build the scenery by nail­ing and ham­mer­ing.

“The part I al­ways think is so awe­some is that this is my house,” said Jake. “Ev­ery day, I come home to see all the dec­o­ra­tions and know­ing this is where I live. Not many peo­ple get to see this type of stuff at their house and some peo­ple don’t even have any lights.”

Jake ad­mits that he loves help­ing to put dec­o­ra­tions out, “al­ways have since I can re­mem­ber.” He

You get so few chances to spread the love around and we make it hap­pen ev­ery year.

Joe Dre­lick

hopes that when he brings this to his fu­ture home, “hopefully [he] can get as big as [his] dad’s” dis­play.

Jake’s older sis­ter, Jor­dynn, has found the whole ex­pe­ri­ence to be nos­tal­gic.

“I knew my grand­fa­ther was get­ting old and he couldn’t do it for­ever,” said Jor­dynn, 14. “I al­ways knew the dis­play would get big­ger at my house and it did. Each night gets big­ger and big­ger, and my dad is al­ways out there talk­ing to peo­ple just like I re­mem­ber see­ing my grand­fa­ther do with peo­ple who stopped by.”

Jor­dynn can re­call be­ing a lit­tle girl and go­ing to her grand­par­ents home on both week­days and week­ends for din­ner. Both her and her cousins would stand out­side by the dec­o­ra­tions and sing Christ­mas carols for the peo­ple walking through the dis­play.

“Cars would be lined up down the street to get a peek and that would be on a Tues­day night,” she said.

Fast for­ward nearly 10 years later and the same ex­pe­ri­ence is now hap­pen­ing at the Dre­licks’ res­i­dence in Towa­mencin.

Any­time be­tween 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., guests are in­vited to ex­pe­ri­ence the Dre­licks’ Christ­mas Light dis­play.

Upon reach­ing the lawn, each guest puts his or her name in­side the sign-in book to show what state they are from. Twelve of the 50 states have been rep­re­sented, in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia, Mis­souri, Iowa, Florida, New York and Con­necti­cut.

Across the yard are hand­crafted push-but­ton in­ter­ac­tions and 14 scenes, which in­clude “The Cas­tle” with work­ing win­dows, a Mum­mers Santa and Santa on a cell­phone; a pi­ano — which is co­or­di­nated with Christ­mas carols — on the roof; Char­lie Brown; a singing Frosty the Snow­man; and much more.

“The prepa­ra­tion and cost of our dis­play is worth ev­ery penny to see how many peo­ple come out on our front lawn,” said Joe. “That is what this is all about, a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence where you don’t just drive by, but you get out of your car.”

“You get so few chances to spread the love around and we make it hap­pen ev­ery year.”

Joe and Tracey Dre­lick show off their Christ­mas lights with their daugh­ter, Jor­dynn, 14, and son, Jake, 11, at their home in Towa­mencin.

Pho­tos by Mark C. Psoras

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