Steve Schiccitano and Chris Hussak thought they’d “retired.”
After putting on extravagant Christmas light displays — first at their homes in Lawton Valley Hunt and Fairway East in 2012 and then moving to Great Northern Mall in 2013 — to raise money for the Salvation Army, the two stepped back in 2014, distracted by the everyday pressures of work, family and life in general.
But now, with help from Walk of Faith Church on Wetzel Road, the Holiday Hope Light Show is back.
“It was kind of proposed to me, and I think it’s always been in the back of our minds,” said Hussak, who attends Walk of Faith. “I threw it out there to Steve, and after some coaxing, he was on board.”
According to Schiccitano, the church provides the perfect venue for the show.
“It’s really cool because it’s actually going to be indoors again,” he said.
The show features more than 50,000 lights choreographed to music in what Hussak calls “a very immersive display.”
“You’re almost transported into a kind of magical Christmas wonderland,” he said. “It’s pretty spectacular. It’s like trying to describe what Space Mountain is like to somebody who’s never been on it. Until you’ve been on it, you don’t really know.”
A welcome video greets visitors as they enter the church, located at 4167 Wetzel Road, and lights then guide them into the auditorium, where they can enjoy coffee and hot chocolate while they take in the spectacle. While admission is free, the Salvation Army will have its traditional Red Kettles positioned around the church to accept donations.
For both Hussak and Schiccitano, that’s the real motivation for doing the light show—to help others in the community.
“Certainly, it’s great to put a show on for the kids and families,” Schiccitano said. “But from my perspective, one of the top reasons that I do it and Chris does it, is giving back to the community. We’ve been doing this for a long time, going back to our front yards, and the stories that we’ve heard about how it has touched several lives is pretty powerful.”
Schiccitano pointed out that all money raised by the Salvation Army through these fundraisers stays local, which is why he and Hussak chose to partner with them.
Opening night for the Holiday Hope Light Show is Friday, Nov. 24. Shows are 30 minutes long and will take place at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 24. There will be special shows in the week leading up to Christmas Eve, as well as theme nights and a visit from Santa Claus; for a schedule, visit facebook.com/HolidayHopeLightShow.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.