Bay Area family recognized for iconic Christmas house

For 23 years, the owners of an iconic Vallejo Christmas house with as many lights as McDonald’s has burgers have put the holiday spirit into hundreds of thousands.

Friday night, the limelight was on Bob and Linda Taylor for a change.

Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell, Vallejo City Councilmember Pippin Dew, Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown and other dignitaries showed their appreciation, honoring the couple with a certification of appreciation and enough kind words to leave the hosts in tears.

“I’m thanking all of you from the bottom of my heart,” Bob Taylor said. “All of our hard work would be worth nothing if you didn’t come out here to enjoy this over the years. So thank you.”

“You have hosted just a spectacular gift to the community for years and there is never anything we could do to repay you,” McConnell told the Taylor family. You’ve given the gift of light and holiday spirit to hundreds of thousands over the years.”

The evening brought back a flood of memories for McConnell.

“I was immediately impressed with all the activity that went into making this,” McConnell said. “Coming from a theater background you really appreciated something like this. And it just keeps growing and growing every year. The warmth and the giving that the Taylors have brought have far outshined the lights.”

After 23 years of bringing joy by decorating their home in memory of their daughter, the Taylors have decided that this will be the last year for the Christmas light display. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald) 

The Taylors’ house is essentially “the Christmas house in Vallejo” much like Fenway Park is known as “the diamond” in Boston or John Williams is known as “the composer” in Hollywood.

You don’t find the house at 817 Old Glen Cove Road — it finds you. If you’re driving down the freeway on I-780 you have a better chance of avoiding taxes. It’s there, in all of its glory, shining brightly from Dec. 1 through Dec. 31 every year.

“I love it when people come up to me and tell me that they once came to visit the house as kids, and now they are taking their own kids to visit,” Bob Taylor said, with a huge smile. “I also love it when kids see the house for the first time and their mouths open in awe when they first see Santa.”

The house became a must-see Christmas venue just months after tragedy hit the family when Bob’s daughter, Debra Taylor-Sattari, died in a plane crash in June of 1999. The American Airlines flight she was on was routed from San Francisco to Little Rock, Ark., where it hit a big storm and missed the runway. Eleven people died in the crash.

Soon after the crash, Bob created a memorial tribute to Debra in a garden — now located in the backyard of the Taylors’ house. There is a fountain, featuring flowers that Bob constantly changes.

People walk through the Christmas light display at Bob and Linda Taylor's Glen Cove house in Vallejo. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
People walk through the Christmas light display at Bob and Linda Taylor’s Glen Cove house in Vallejo. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald) 

The front yard, featuring in 2014 on ABC’s “Christmas Light Fight, has become a nationwide institution, gaining more notoriety as time goes on.

The Taylors cite age — each is over 80 — as the reason for shutting down the attraction. Neither can keep up with the hard work it takes to put everything together at the site.

With that in mind, many wanted to thank the family before the last switch is flicked off.

“You’ve brought some much comfort and joy to the community,” Monica Brown said to the Taylors. “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. It took a very heavy heart to first bring this house together for the community. But look at all of this. Look at all the people that have shown up tonight on a Friday night. You’ve helped bring a real sense of community here.”

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