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TravelGuides – Volunteers help Iowa man keep his Christmas light tradition going strong

TravelGuides – Volunteers help Iowa man keep his Christmas light tradition going strong

Every year, a little neighborhood nestled within Des Moines, Iowa, becomes engulfed in lights and decorations, turning into a Christmas wonderland. 

It draws in crowds from all over the state.

“There is bumper-to-bumper [cars] on the big nights … waiting to get in here,” Julie Marks, resident of Ashby Avenue, told Fox News. “They were coming around … in busses and limos just to see the lights.”

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She says “driving into this neighborhood is like driving into a storybook.” 

Julie and Dale Marks’ home in Des Moines, Iowa. 
(Julie Marks)

It’s been a tradition in the Beaverdale neighborhood for years. Julie Marks and husband Dale Marks have also used the event as a way to collect food and donations for the Food Bank of Iowa. Last year, they collected 1,500 pounds of food. 

When Dale Marks, who survived COVID-19, two strokes and a heart attack, was unable to decorate, a local contractor and his team rushed in to help.

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By Dec. 4, most of the homes in the neighborhood are decorated, Julie Marks said. 

But in September, the Markses contracted COVID-19. And while Julie Marks began to recover, Dale Marks got sicker, suffering two strokes and a heart attack.

Dale Marks sitting in front of his home in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Dale Marks sitting in front of his home in Des Moines, Iowa. 
(Julie Marks)

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“He had a stroke on the left and right side of the brain … he only lost the ability to move on the right side for about three days,” she said.

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Now, Dale Marks is out of the hospital, but he uses an oxygen tank and can only walk short distances inside their home, making it difficult to keep up their Christmas tradition, Julie Marks said. 

Julie and Dale Marks' home in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Julie and Dale Marks’ home in Des Moines, Iowa. 
(Julie Marks)

“I had resolved that it probably wasn’t going to happen because there was no way I could put these lights up alone,” she said. “But, you know, it is a tradition and people count on it.” 

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Julie and Dale Marks' home in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Julie and Dale Marks’ home in Des Moines, Iowa. 
(Julie Marks)

After hearing about their story, Bob Coffey, who owns the construction company Bob the Builder LLC, and a handful of his employees, stepped in. 

Coffey and four of his workers visited the Marks’ home and spent three hours putting up lights and decorations throughout the yard. 

He estimated that there were at least 10,000 lights. 

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“It lights up the whole neighborhood,” Coffey said. “Just that one house.” 

They had never met the Markses before. But for Coffey, it didn’t matter. It meant a lot to him to just help out the community, as he has always done. 

“When we got done, I just told him to have a great night and to take care of himself,” Coffey said. “And he cried. I cried … It was pretty awesome.” 

TravelGuides – Volunteers help Iowa man keep his Christmas light tradition going strong

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