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Madera man sustains Christmas lighting despite vandals

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune A lit nativity scene is the main feature of Jim Bryan’s Christmas display. Bryan has decorated his home for the past 20 years.


Jim Bryan’s elaborate Christmas light show in Madera has been attacked by thieves again and again. Yet, Bryan’s Christmas spirit never weakens and the show keeps coming back stronger every year.

The Madera native has kept the show going during the Christmas Season for almost two decades during the holiday season, determined to satisfy his neighbors who eagerly anticipate a familiar sight at Bryan’s house on Yosemite Avenue.

Although he adds new features every year, Bryan’s yard always includes his favorite lights, angels and nativity scene.

“People look forward to it every year,” Bryan said. “People always ask me if I’m going to do the Christmas lights.”

Bryan starts putting up the decorations around October, giving himself enough time to be ready for the holiday season. The October weather also makes it safer for Bryan to work on the roof.

“It takes time to put it all over the trees and all over the roof and I don’t want to get on the roof when it’s wet,” Bryan said.

If he finds himself behind schedule, Bryan asks for help from his family. For the most part, however, he puts up the decorations by himself.

When thieves steal his decorations, Bryan comes back with more features.

“I always go out and see if there are new lights out there that are real cool looking,” Bryan said. “I have some new rope lights out there this year. They look real nice.”

One of the main features in the yard is a big lighted angel on the west side of the roof. Bryan calls it nana angel.

“My kids called my mother-in-law nana,” Bryan said. “She passed away, so that’s nana angel up there.”

Another one of the standout features is the stable, which is special for Bryan because a friend made it especially for him.

Unlike other Christmas light shows, Bryan doesn’t include Santa or reindeers. That’s because the main point of Christmas is not about Santa, Bryan said.

Bryan would rather feature a baby Jesus figure, even though it has been stolen three times from his yard. A lady who heard about Bryan’s misfortune one day arrived at his house with a Christmas miracle.

“A lady knocked on the door one day and I wasn’t home,” Bryan said. “My daughter was there and there was a lady who said ‘I know you lost your baby Jesus and I found this one.’”

Bryan then took the baby Jesus to a priest for a blessing and placed it among his decorations. “It was beautiful,” Bryan said. “To this day, I don’t know who that lady was.”

Bryan’s next plan is to enhance the music that goes with the lighting.

“Right now I have the music that I bought at a local store about four or five years ago,” Bryan said. “Now, we’re actually working on custom-making our own with a lot more songs to it. I don’t know if it will get hooked up this year, but we’re going to try.”

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