One last hurrah

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Dan Cruikshank (right) stands with sons Devin (front) and Dillon (rear) by the drag racing Santa display in front of his house at 1690 Leo Street NE in Keizer. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Dan Cruikshank (right) stands with sons Devin (front) and Dillon (rear) by the drag racing Santa display in front of his house at 1690 Leo Street NE in Keizer. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

As far as Dan Cruikshank is concerned, this is the last time.

But not if his family has anything to say about it.

Cruikshank, 53, started doing an elaborate Christmas light display in Oregon City in the mid-1990s and continued the deed once he moved to Keizer in 1998.

He last did the display in 2003, the year youngest child Devin was born.

“People keep saying ‘You need to do it again,’” said Cruikshank, who lives on a dead end at 1690 Leo Street NE in Keizer. “But it’s too much work. And there’s no traffic down here.”

Cruikshank worked in the sheetmetal field more than 30 years until losing his job three years ago. He’s on disability for a degenerative disc disease.

“It’s kicking my behind,” he said.

Around last Christmas, more people – in particular family and friends – started asking Cruikshank about doing his display again.

“They convinced me to do it again,” he said.

A car was donated to the cause by Big Jim’s Auto Wrecking. Brother Deric and his son helped, while Cruikshank’s oldest son Dillon, 20, also helped put things together.

This year, it’s not just about the lights: a food barrel has been put out to collect food for Hope Station Community Services.

“The food drive part is for them,” Cruikshank said. “The idea is to bring people here. I wanted to go out with one last hurrah. I added the food drive because when I was young, we were poor. We got food baskets and people helped pay our bills.”

So with the help from others, Cruikshank set out to do the display once more. He has the same binary computer program he used at the start, starring Santa the drag racer.

“Santa crashed his sleigh, then got in the car,” Cruikshank said. “It all turns on: the headlights, the taillights, everything turns on. The car moves forward, the Christmas tree (starting lights) goes down, the car goes for 12 seconds and then it starts over.”

Things haven’t been going according to plan. Perhaps due to 10 years of non-use, there has been a constant issue with lights and battery issues.

“It has been a constant rebuilding, pretty much every day,” Cruikshank said.

But the setbacks have been small compared to the joy it’s brought people – including Cruikshank’s family members.

“I think it’s awesome,” Dillon said. “If more people would help each year, there would be more lit up and more people would be coming. It’s a joy we are trying to bring to people.”

Dillon is among family members who would love to see the display continue.

“I want to do it, but I don’t want to have to pay the electricity bill,” he said. “The last year we did this, I was 10 years old. Seeing this brought back a lot of memories. It’s a lot of hard work and effort. You just work through it and keep the good attitude up.

“This has brought back a lot of good memories,” Dillon added of the display. “It’s awesome we’re doing it again. It’s really cool.”

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