Russell and Leslie Harlien began their tradition of decorating their house for Christmas 21 years ago, and each year they have added to their christmas lights display. It was only last year though, that the decorations began making spirits bright for more than just those who visit the Georgetown home.
In 2014 Harlien's neighbor, Kim Broad, asked if she could raise money on his behalf to be donated to charity, in recognition of all the joy his efforts bring to their neighborhood. She helped to schedule storytelling and visits from Santa to draw crowds to the light display, and they ended up raising over $23,000.
Harlien chose to donate the funds to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and their donation enabled several central Texas children's wishes to be granted in 2015.
Broad and the Harliens are hoping to match that number again this year, and as Broad told the Austin American Statesman, "We are well on our way!"
Even Santa is in on the mission. Phil Gingras plays the role of Santa at the Harlien Family Christmas (as it has come to be called) and he is passionate about it because he knows what it feels like to be a Make-a-Wish dad; Gingras's son survived leukemia and was granted a wish by the Foundation. Santa's next visit is this Friday, Dec. 11, and he'll come again Dec. 18.
The home is adorned with over 70,000 lights which Russell Harlien begins putting up in early October. "I love Christmas", Harlien told the Statesman. While he's tirelessly decorating his mantra remains, "The only way to get rid of the darkness is to add more light."
For more info on how to visit the Harlien house and donate to their Make-A-Wish fundraiser, visit berrycreekchristmas.com.