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Community comes together to light up Pleasant Hill Christmas display

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PLEASANT HILL, Ill. (WGEM) -- The Collard family puts up a Christmas light display every year at their home in Pleasant Hill, Illinois.

However, this year was a little different, when a medical issue had the family questioning if this would happen this year.

But before they had doubt, the community said the show must go on.

"Christmas is our favorite holiday, if you couldn't tell," Joe Collard said.

The light display has been the Collard family's Christmas tradition for the past four years now.

"We love bringing joy to people and thought, you know what, we need to keep doing this for people," Collard said.

But this year, that tradition almost didn't happen.

"This year, my husband had some health issues, ended up having back surgery and while recovering, he had a Pulmonary Embolism and had to be flown out," Dana Collard said.

"One of the flight nurses in the helicopter that flew me out said hey aren't you the guy that does the Christmas lights in Pleasant Hill and I said yeah, that's me," Joe said.

He said at that moment, he doubted whether or not he'd be able to get the lights up.

"I thought it was going to be a scaled down version this year," Joe said.

He thought wrong. His wife, Dana, reached out to the community for help.

"It was an absolute immediate response of people wanting to help us," Dana said. "I set a date and they showed up."

"My husband and Joe have been best friends since high school," neighbor Beth Burdick said. "They ask and we show up. It's as simple as that."

For Joe and his family, that simple gesture sums up what Christmas is all about.

"The first day that we set stuff out, we had like eight or nine people here helping us," Joe said. "The next day, we had more people here. It's just been overwhelming, the support that we've had to get this done."

The family said the lights normally go on until New Years Day, but with the response they've gotten and everything going on with the tough year of 2020, they said they plan to keep in on longer.

The Collards light display is on Houston Street in Pleasant Hill.

They said any donations they receive will go to the Pleasant Hill Community Center Toy Drive.

You can also drop off letters to Santa there as the house is host to the Santa mailbox.

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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