Kimberly and John Mercado have a passion for Christmas. And, this year, the Mercados want to share that passion with their fellow residents.
The Mercado display, a winner of the 2015 and 2016 Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce Trolley Tour of Lights, will be open for public view courtesy of open house events on Saturday, Nov. 24; Saturday, Dec. 15; and Sunday, Dec. 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. at 327 4th Terrace.
There will be no charge to view the display, although a free-will donation will be accepted, both for the light display and for Toys for Tots.
Holiday treats will also be available at no cost.
Although the Mercado's property will glow with Christmas joy this year, that hasn't always been the case.
Kimberly said the family's previous religious convictions didn't allow them to decorate or celebrate Christmas.
The Mercado's left that religion and have been very much enjoying the holiday celebration addition to their lives.
Kimberly said she always liked Christmas and felt that she was left out of the fun.
"I felt like everybody else got to do that," she said, noting that her birthday is Dec. 25. "I am making up for lost time."
The display started modestly enough with lights around a pond and adorning a gazebo and some trees and bushes.
Each year, it has gotten bigger and now sprawls across the Mercado's multiple lots. Included in the decorations are an 18 by 20 foot pergola, which replaced the former gazebo, many more trees and bushes, the house including a wrap-around porch, a bridge and two side yards. It's almost more than can be typed into an article and definitely something that can not be taken in from a single vantage point.
A full tour is needed to appreciate the property's multiple levels of Christmas decor. And it doesn't stop there, either. A trip inside the 120-year-old restored home reveals seven rooms of decorations and five large Christmas trees.
It takes a long time to put all that Christmas joy into place. Kimberly said the couple spends about six weeks and between 300 to 400 hours getting their place ready for Christmas.
It's too much not to share.
In past years, the Mercados showed off the Christmas decorations to customers of their message therapy business.
And they definitely enjoyed it.
This year, the couple wants more people to enjoy it, and, possibly in the process, restart an old holiday tradition. Kimberly said there was a time when people in town opened up their homes to show off their Christmas treasures. By stepping forward with an open house, the Mercado's could start that again.
Even if they don't, the lights are sure to add joy and inspiration to the holidays. Kimberly said she has heard from people who saw their display and became inspired to go home and put up their own Christmas decorations.
Kimberly said she feels that the Christmas lights bring therapeutic joy. And they definitely set the scene for Christmas, which, after all, is what it's all about.