Every August for 36 years, Concord, California resident Bruce Mertz began his preparations for his (locally) famous Christmas light spectacular. Comprised of more than 50,000 bulbs alongside countless props, structures, wires, and machines, Mertz’s light show ran from the day after Thanksgiving until January 2, drawing visitors from all over the Bay Area and beyond. Affectionately known as Mr. Christmas, the octogenarian would often come out to greet gawkers while sporting a holiday jacket complete with its own light show.
On January 2, 2015, the octogenarian finally turned off his lights for the last time, explaining “it’s not as easy to get on the roof as it used to be.” Yike. Before the final show, however, National Geographic shot the short documentary below, giving an inside look into Mertz’s life and his complicated (and entirely unsafe) process.
Again and again, the artists I find for this blog remind me about the ingenuity and indomitable creativity of the human spirit. This man, perhaps unremarkable in most other ways, doggedly committed great amounts of time and effort for 3.5 decades to bring joy to the people who came to see his art. And art it was.
I hope Mr. Mertz is enjoying his retirement. He certainly earned it. And thanks to Nat Geo, his reputation lives on!