By Mary McGuire

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — When the sun goes down, the crowds start coming. Cars slow down and cameras come out. Everyone is trying to savor a slice of John Cretzmeyer’s Christmas light display outside his home in White Bear Lake.

Over the past three decades, the display has grown to include between 200,000 and 300,000 lights.

The winter wonderland, which goes up after Thanksgiving, wasn’t easy to create.

“I had multiple outlets added and more things, overloaded the circuits, set a tree on fire,” Cretzmeyer said.

String by string, these lights have wrapped their way around the hearts of those in this community over the years.

But even the brightest bulb burns out someday. This will be the last year the lights will shine.

Cretzmeyer was going to call it quits five years ago. He even had a farewell sign made.

“I got cards, letters, emails – ‘You can’t quit, I came here since I was 3,” Cretzmeyer said.

So the show went on and the sign had to be altered a bit.

But hanging lights is dangerous and after 35 years…

“It seemed like this is a good time to end it,” Cretzmeyer said.

Cretzmeyer thinks of the display as his gift to the community. It’s a present that can’t be wrapped or opened, only remembered.

The light display will shine until the second week of January.

You can check it out for yourself at 5590 West Bald Eagle Blvd. in White Bear Lake.

Mary McGuire

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