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Bringing Christmas to the veterans

Lewiston Morning Tribune - 12/21/2020

Dec. 21—Marv Delp doesn't scrimp on his Christmas lights.

The Lewiston man typically has one of the must-see displays in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. Like some of the most indulgent, Delp's is set to music and broadcast over an FM radio channel so people can hear holiday tunes as they drive by.

"I have stars and bells and snowmen and singing angels and leaping arches," he said. "I have all kinds of things — the whole house is decked out. I've got lights on the roof, lights on the windows and doors. It's pretty much over the whole house and yard."

This year, however, his home on the 2100 block of Powers Avenue is dark, even though his lights still shine, blink and dazzle.

Delp, an Army veteran and maintenance foreman at the Idaho State Veterans Home in Lewiston, packed up his hundreds of strings of lights, his bells, stars, angels and other props and set them up in a courtyard there.

"The residents here don't get to go out and about because of the COVID stuff," he said. "I just wanted to see if I could brighten up their holiday and make things nicer so they would have something to look at."

Caregivers at the home typically arrange for residents to take a driving tour around the valley to see the Christmas lights at various homes, and Delp's was one of the featured stops. That isn't happening this year. Like so many other things, the tour and other outings for the residents — who are among the most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness — were canceled because of the pandemic. Mark High, administrator at the home, said Delp and other staff members have done their best to deliver holiday cheer.

"They really seem to enjoy it," he said of Delp's lights. "We also had a volunteer come and paint snowflakes on our resident room windows. Of course our activity staff decorated the heck out of all of our hallways and common areas."

The light display is on the north side of the facility. High said another staff member donated some inflatable yard decorations for residents who have south-facing windows. But all residents have access to the courtyard that Delp took over.

"I have had some of the residents tell me they go out and watch them every night," he said.

Delp had to alter his display somewhat to fit the space available and is still tweaking a few things.

"I basically had to reprogram a lot of stuff to make the props fit and reprogram some of the music and sequences. I worked on it for about a month before I brought it down. It's time-consuming to program the music. It takes me two to four hours to program one minute of music.

His obsession with decorating his own home is relatively young. He's been going big for about four years and was inspired by other elaborate decorations.

"I just drove around and saw some lights and was interested," he said. "My grandson wanted to start doing some stuff, so we started building some props and it just expanded over the years."

The display at the veterans home isn't readily viewable to people on their own Christmas light driving tours. Delp said the courtyard is behind the building, accessible only by a small fire lane.

"It's kind of for the guys, not open for the general public," he said.

That means fewer people will be able to see his creative effort, but Delp is fine with that, calling the residents "super good people" he enjoys and with whom, through a past of service, he shares a common bond.

"COVID has kind of put a crimp on things. I just wanted to try to brighten up the Christmas season for our residents," he said. "The guys, you could just tell, they weren't too much in the Christmas spirit, and now they get to see the stuff and they seem to enjoy it."

Barker may be contacted at or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.


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