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Let there be light!

Let there be light!

Mark and Denise Van Sile have a unique, engaging and celebratory way of giving back to their community. With a 3,500-square-foot house that sits on a corner lot of one of the busiest and most beautiful streets in metro Detroit, they adorn their property with over-the-top (yet tasteful) décor for Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, Halloween (they give out full-size candy bars!) and Thanksgiving.

But no holiday is more opulent, luminous and spirited than Christmas. It’s their annual showstopper.

With help from his brother Rob and an industrial gas-powered lift that can carry him more than 60 feet off the ground, Mark Van Sile hangs thousands of plastic-encased Christmas lights and other illuminated decorations on top of his house, flagpoles and trees. He does by hand what so many of his neighbors pay a service to create. It takes a creative vision, a huge heart and hundreds of hours of man power. Van Sile says he does it all for the community

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It inspires us to keep going — and to keep growing.

The entire display is controlled by a computer and synced to Christmas music pumped out through a few strategically placed outdoor speakers. Mark says he’s constantly looking to make upgrades. This year, he bought an all-weather artificial outdoor tree that he saw while visiting California and said he hadto own. It’s about 15 to 20 feet tall, made from petroleum-based polyresins and bejeweled with 3,500 permanent LED bulbs. As for powering everything else? He recently had an electrician install 24 dedicated circuits linked to individual external outlets.

The Van SIles don’t have kids of their own — aside from an absolutely adorable Schnauzer — but they do what they do for the hundreds of kids (and kids at heart) in the neighborhood. An oversized letterbox on their yard collects letters to Santa. “These past few years, we’ve started to see the second generation of visitors come by during the holidays,” Van Sile says. “We’ve been doing this for 23 years. The kids who used to come with their parents when we started out have grown up and now they’re bringing their little ones. It inspires us to keep going — and to keep growing.”