browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.
Our Great American Adventure Website Logo

Christmas display in the tiny town of Cornville, Arizona. Dave Kessel.

Posted by on December 15, 2013

This Christmas light display was set to music. It was spectacular!

DECEMBER 15, 2013. 

This is another post about interesting people I’ve met along the way. As I’ve stated, one of the compelling reasons I had for taking this trip was to meet and talk with interesting Americans. I want to meet folks whose backgrounds aren’t parallel with mine.  I want to learn how they think, what they believe and why. I want to know their stories. Here’s another interesting American I met along the way.

Dave Kessel is a guy who really celebrates Christmas. He lives in a little rural farming community called Cornville, near Sedona, Arizona. Downtown Cornville is about 6 inches long. The folks who live there are blue collar hard working Americans. There is no crime in Cornville. There are no gangs. The kids pledge allegiance to the flag at school. Everyone attends church services on Sunday morning. Most folks know their neighbors. The pace is slow. The folks celebrate Christmas. They aren’t worried about being politically correct by calling their celebrations “holiday events.” They exchange “Christmas presents.”  They probably don’t even know what political correctness means.


Dave’s yard becomes a riot of Christmas colors dancing to the music which you can play on your car radio.

Each holiday season for the last 15 years or so Dave has transformed his property into a holiday display that can only be termed “spectacular.” He calls it “Kessel’s Cornville Christmas.” It’s a Christmas light show using computer synchronization.  The show lasts a full 40 minutes. With 175 circuits, it takes him about 10 hours to sequence, edit and program every minute of music. Multiply that times 40 minutes, add a mile and a half of cable and it’s easy to understand why he starts preparing for the show in March every year! It’s nothing short of a professional music and light extravaganza! It’s a lot of work. It’s a big deal. Dave has two shows nightly. He provides lawn chairs and outdoor heaters for spectators. The show is set to synchronize with an FM radio station. Kessel refuses any payment for watching, but encourages members of the audience to donate to a collection box for food gifts to a local food bank.  Kessel says that the show is bordering on an obsession. “I’m a little worried about becoming another Clark Griswold,” he says.

I overheard a little girl ask him, “Sir, why do you have this show?” Dave’s response: “Because I love Christmas and this is my contribution to the community at a wonderful time of year.” How nice. Sadly, how unusual. Here’s a guy who loves Christmas and what it’s all about. He doesn’t feel any need to sugar-coat what the holiday celebrates. He gives this nightly presentation to the community because he wants to do so. I’m really glad we attended. Unfortunately he’s quite an exceptional guy. There aren’t enough like him. Dave knows how much joy there is in giving. “Merry Christmas to you, Dave. God bless you!”







Comments are closed.