Helping make the season bright!
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.
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.