LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) Each holiday season for the past 12 years, a Lancaster neighborhood is transformed into a winter wonderland. Nearly 300 homes are lit up as part of “Stony Brook Shines for Others.”
“The first year I just threw an idea out there to neighbors saying lets decorate our trees and it just grew and grew and grew,” said founder Jennifer Chomen.
Those who drive by are encouraged to leave a donation for a different children’s charity each year. “It all takes one. If every person just left a dollar it would make a huge difference,” said Harry Chomen.
This year’s recipient is Devin’s Message, an anti bullying foundation. Back in 2017, 15-year-old Devin Kurzdorfer tragically took his life after being bullied.
“We miss him everyday and everyday we wake up and his presence and his thoughts are in our minds,” said Devin’s grandfather, Joe Smajder. “That’s why we continue to go out there and work with the kids and teachers and principals to get our message out there,” he said.
All proceeds raised will go to Devin’s Message and toward a scholarship fund for students.
“In the middle of everything, it’s so hectic and you are hoping to get money and you’re hoping that the lights don’t go out and then it all comes to fruition at the check presentation,” said Chomen.
Many come from near and far to admire Tony Dittmer’s home. But he says its not just about his 27 trees, 79 Santas and all the lights… it’s about the cause behind it.
“The charity is absolutely what keeps it going,” he said. “It’s like you want to do it because so many people are going to enjoy it.”
“And the kids in the neighborhood grew up doing this so they’ve always given back and now they know that’s what you need to do in life,” said Chomen.
To date the neighborhood and business sponsors have raised over $117,680 for children’s charities in Western New York.
You can check out the lights yourself from 6-10 pm daily on Stony Brook Drive, Lancaster, N.Y. 14086.
“Stony Brook Shines for Others” runs through January 1st.
You can also donate by heading here.