Holiday hobby puts Red Cross in national spotlight

RED CROSS — A Christmastime hobby has turned into more than just simple decorating for Darin Robinson. His Christmas light display, consisting of more than 100,000 lights, was recently featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” Each year the show features a friendly competition among larger-than-life Christmas displays from around the country. Celebrity judges visit each location and the winners receive a trophy and $50,000 cash prize.

Robinson began his holiday hobby seriously in 2012, when he purchased his first computer. “We moved to Red Cross in 2004, I have always decorated my house, but in 2012 I began doing more,” said Robinson.

Robinson began decorating in August after learning that he would be competing on “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” He worked with friends and family every weekend to complete the elaborate setup. Robinson needed more help decorate because he was suffering from a torn meniscus which limited his ability to climb.

“I normally begin in mid-October and have about 90 percent done by Thanksgiving,” said Robinson.

The community loves the light show and Robinson’s neighborhood crew was featured prominently in the episode.

“It was very exciting with the film crew,” said Amy Yow, whose husband works with Robinson and came to the taping. “I love Christmas, so it was good to see everyone happy and in a Christmas spirit.”

In the ABC competition, the Wright family of Dayton, Texas, took home the trophy and cash prize. Their holiday display endured Hurricane Harvey. Robinson’s display did not take home the trophy in “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” but his designs have become a tradition for some families in the area.

“My family comes every year to see their lights, we always look forward to seeing their display,” said Lois Almond.

Robinson’s hobby — which is now a year-round undertaking — requires a lot of support from his family.

“Darin really dreams up the ideas and we help him make them happen,” said Darin’s wife, Cindy.

Cindy Robinson says she enjoys the reactions and love they receive from people who stop by to see the display.

“People stop and bring us Christmas cookies, we even have families want to come and pray with us,” she said.

People also try to make donations, but the Robinsons won’t accept it.

“People try to give us money to help with the electricity bill, but we refuse,” Cindy Robinson said. “If people insist, we will donate the money.”

Darin Robinson enjoys being able to brighten people’s day and bringing joy to his community.

“To know that my family contributes to a little bit of the Christmas spirit and someone might be having a bad day and my display could brighten their day, that is the best part of my display,” he said.

This year Darin Robinson did a North Carolina theme on the roof. One side has trees to represent the mountains, then there are dolphins and a lighthouse to represent the coast. His 2018 display planning is already underway.

“Next year I plan to make a waterfall of lights into the creek and also cover the creek area with blue lights,” he said. “I will probably add around 40,000 more lights next year.”

Darin Robinson, who is a trucker, leaves his lights running all night, every night so truckers and other late-night drivers are able to see his display.

New Year’s Eve will be the last opportunity to see this light display — until next year.