‘A Heart for Christmas’ is back for second year,
bigger and better than ever

front of house_for websiteMore than 60,000 lights will combine with the genius and skill of Clayton light meister, Jeffrey Holmes in a dramatic musical light show on his parent’s estate on Pine Lane. Holmes describes ‘A Heart for Christmas’ as original, but inspired by Disney’s ‘Frozen.’ Holmes has been lighting up for the holidays since 2007 when he won the Clayton Pioneer Home Decorating Contest at age 15. Many will remember when the Clayton Community Church glowed with his lighting in 2008 and 09. This year’s show opens Nov. 28. There is no admission, however donations will benefit Clayton transplant patient Katie Grace Groebner and the Children’s Organ Transplant Association.  (Jules Bianchi Photo)

When Jeff Holmes flips the switch on “A Heart for Christmas” Friday night, it will be the largest light show in the Bay Area, bringing together the vision of a teen-aged “tekkie, a decade of training and a burning desire to help a friend.

Jeff was only 13 when he saw the now legendary Budweiser commercial with thousands of lights flashing and dancing across the screen in synch with the TransSiberian Orchestra’s “Wizards of Winter.”

At that moment, Jeff knew. “I want to do that,” he said. The fire was lit.

“No one was doing light shows back then,” he explains. “It was hidden from the world until You Tube.”

He nurtured the idea for a couple of years, watching videos, experimenting with his computer and learning what he could.

When the Clayton Pioneer home decorating contest rolled around in 2007, Jeff seized the moment and entered the contest.

He and his dad rummaged through their basement, dragging out whatever they could find that looked Christmas-sy and had a plug on the end.

“The lights were old and shoddy,” Jeff recalls. “They were unstable, but they worked.” With those lights, a laptop and his dad’s help, Jeff produced his first sequenced musical light show and won the Home Decorating contest that year, hands down.

The next year, he moved the show downtown to the Clayton Community Church. With double the lights and more music, the show was a popular holiday attraction for two years.

When the church decided not to do the show in 2010, Jeffrey made contact with a company that manufactured commercial Christmas products. And in a “one thing led to another” chain of events, Jeff found himself shipped off to Guatemala to work on what would be the biggest musical Christmas tree in the world.

Last year, Clayton’s Katie Grace Groebner, a close family friend, was in the last stages of pulmonary hypertension and in grave need of a transplant. Jeff saw a way to help Katie Grace and brought his lights and music home again to produce a bigger-than-ever musical light show to benefit his friend. Last year, “A Heart for Christmas” was free to the public, but donations amounted to over $3000 for Katie Grace and the Children’s Organ Transplant Association.

Katie Grace received her new heart and lungs last June, but the family’s need for help is still great. He hopes the donations from this year’s show will double last year’s and help the family retire some of their huge medical bills.

Jeff describes “A Heart for Christmas” as loosely inspired by Disney’s “Frozen,” – a low budget ‘fantasmic.’

“We may not have a 50 foot dragon, but we have lights, music and magic,” Jeff says.

The 30-minute show stars two lovable animated snow-peeps — wannabe-superhero Snowball and the lovely Flurry— who share the “stage” with 60,000 lights and 15 songs all sequenced and projected on the front of the Holmes’ two-story colonial home.

The magic begins at iron gates on Pine Lane. A 400-ft walk through the multi colored light tunnel opens into a “snowy” world of white lights and glitter. The entire two acres of the estate have been transformed into a walk-through display with falling “snow,” colored fountains, a nativity scene and gift shop.

The shows run from Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. with a short concert before Snowball and Flurry take the stage for a 20-minute show that will leave everyone feelin’ the love.

“A Heart for Christmas” display is at 1195 Pine Lane, Clayton. Follow Clayton Road east through the town of Clayton. At the Middle School, it becomes Marsh Creek Road. Continue past the Middle School for less than a mile and Pine Lane is on the right. For additional dates and a calendar of events, see sidebar. For more information go to aheartforchristmas.com.