Casa del Pomba
House of the Dove
Frequently Asked Questions
Over the years, some of the same questions are asked by our many visitors. In answer to your requests, here are some Casa del Pomba Christmas Display facts.
What is Casa del Pomba? Portuguese for “House of the Dove”, this is the private residence of Deacon Dave Rezendes. On December 4th, 1982, Deacon Dave was ordained a Roman Catholic Deacon. When he was ordained, he dedicated his home to the Holy Spirit. The symbol of the Holy Spirit is the dove. Deacon Dave is one of the clergy of St. Michael Church in Livermore. He is also the Bishop’s Representative to the Deacons & Director of Deacon Personnel in the Diocese of Oakland. Since deacons do not take a vow of poverty, deacon is one of the owners of Security Eye Patrol, Inc. in Livermore. A busy man!
When did Deacon Dave start providing Christmas displays, and why so lavish? Although he started putting up lights many years before, the first large display went up in 1982. Deacon has a passion for Christmas and loves to share with others. This is a gift to the community.
Does Deacon Dave plan the display himself? Heaven’s no! The Deacon names the theme each year and does some planning and design. A team of advisors, who are specialists in various fields, takes the theme and runs with it. They are dedicated volunteers who share Deacon’s excitement and love for Christmas. The deacon often has to rein then in because they come up with some humdingers of ideas! At the Vatican the Pope has final approval. At Casa del Pomba the Deacon has final approval.
Does Deacon Dave supervise every last detail of the display? No! like the Vatican there is a hierarchy at the House of the Dove. There is the Deacon. Then the Planning Team and then the volunteers. The Planning team works closely with the deacon.
Who are all the volunteers? Deacon is proud of the fact that the volunteer crew is made up of community members with a love for the Christmas Season and a desire to share that love with others. They are from all faiths and backgrounds. Only by their giving of their free time and energy can this display be so spectacular.
How do I become a Volunteer? Contact us by E-mail. Give us your name, address, phone number and E-mail address. One of our Planning Team members will contact you as work dates draw near. We are always looking for construction helpers, painters, light hangers, garland staplers, and general helpers. Please no one under 16! Jeanie is our main contact person.
Who are the people we see wearing the Red Christmas Jackets with “House of the Dove” written on the back? They are volunteers who have given several years of their time working on the Christmas Displays. The Deacon awards the coveted jackets on the basis of merit only. All of the regular volunteers are presented by the deacon a Red baseball type hat with the White Dove on the front. Volunteers also wear an identifying badge designated for the year.
When does the crew begin work? Although main construction begins in late August, planning for the next year begins before the current year is finished. Construction takes place most weekends until the week before opening, when the crew is on-site daily. The light crew begins work in September and the Deacon begins decorating the inside of the house September 1st. The light crew works only at night to insure that the lights are working that are being put up. Over 3000 hours of volunteer time goes into each display.
What is the PG&E Bill? The display is Deacon Dave’s gift to the community. As he tells many people each year; “If you would like to pay the bill, I will tell you the amount”. So far no one has take him up on the offer!
Who comes up with the themes? Deacon Dave has a general idea of themes for the next 3-5 years. He then meets with his Planning Team to discuss layout and design. The crew learns of the next years theme at the special crew Christmas Party hosted by the deacon, a week before Christmas. The Crew is sworn to secrecy, so don’t try to get any inside information! The theme is always kept secret until opening night.
Where did the beautiful large Nativity scene that is always in the front window come from? Deacon Dave wants to remind people of the real reason for the season, so he has placed the inspiring Nativity Crèche always in the front window. Deacon personally built the Nativity Barn himself. The angels hanging above were imported from Italy and are handmade by the artist. They are a composition of wood, paper mache and other material. Very delicate, they appear to be flying over the display.
Sometimes we see people inside the home. Can we tour the inside? Sorry but No, this is Deacon Dave’s private residence. He does host parties for St. Michael Staff, his Christmas Crew, his family and close friends, fellow clergy and religious.
We can see several Christmas Trees inside the home. Just how many trees does the deacon have? There is at least one Christmas Tree in every room of the home including the laundry room and bathrooms. In all there are over 30 trees. In 2005 there were 38. All the trees are decorated by the Deacon himself. Each one is uniquely different. The tallest is 22.5 feet and has 1000 ornaments. Some trees are called “designer trees” by the deacon. He specifically designs them differently each year. Other trees are theme trees such as the Native American Tree, Train Tree, Daffy Duck Tree, Some are related to the room, such as the Kitchen Tree, Laundry Room Tree, Closet Tree, and some trees feature Doves, Teddy Bears, Peacocks, Cardinal Birds and even a Religious Tree. He does change the design on many of the trees from year to year. The front window tree changes each year.
Is it true that the Deacon will give you a blessing if you ask him? Yes, in fact, more and more people are asking God’s blessing from the Deacon.
Sometimes we do not see anyone in the house when we pass the front windows. Is there always someone home? Yes! Although the home is under state of the art security the home is NEVER LEFT UNATTENDED. The deacon may be in one of the other rooms of the home or in the Chapel.
Where do all the donations go? We see coins in the coin toss and coins in the wishing well. Does Deacon keep the money? There are some people who send donations specifically designated for the P.G. & E., though the donations do not come near covering the humdinger of a bill. Some donations are designated specifically for the display. The coins and money in the coin toss and water ways go to deacon’s favorite charity, Santa’s Secret Service. He is the Secretary General of that local organization. Santa’s Secret Service provides Christmas gifts to people of all faiths in hospitals, rest homes, youth homes, shelters, children’s group homes, shut-ins, homeless and the poor throughout the Bay Area with no regard to faith. None of the money collected at the display pays for expenses of the display. This is Deacon’s and the volunteer’s gift to the community.
What is the best night to avoid the crowds? Usually it is quiet on Monday and Tuesday nights with little crowds. As it gets closer to Christmas then the crowds grow in size.
Is the display ever closed during the Christmas Season? Not unless there is a winter storm that carries heavy rain. Wind is the worst enemy of the display. We have been closed if and when we notice the bridge becoming slippery. Safety is always considered first.
When the Deacon is greeting the people outside will he pose with family members for a quick photo? Usually yes, unless he is entering the home for a personal call.
How many lights are there? This is the number one question asked each year. There is usually a sign somewhere in the display that gives the current year light count. 1998 had approximately 172,000 lights. The year 2000 had 200,000 lights. The year 2005 had 260,000 lights. 1997 was the first year the standard home electrical service couldn’t handle the load. A generator had to be added to help with the load. In 1998, a new 400 amp electrical service was installed. P.G. & E. Installed an Industrial Transformer across the street from Deacon’s home to handle the expected increase in lights over the coming years. The neighbors share in the use of the Industrial Transformer.
We notice a very large village displayed in one of the front windows. What village is it? Deacon Dave collects Dept. 56, North Pole Village. The reason the village is so large and impressive is that it is complete. That is he has each piece issued from the very first edition that Dept. 56 released and he keeps the collection current. He can not fit all the pieces in his display so he rotates the buildings each year. No! nothing in the village is for sale. The deacon has had many requests from collectors to purchase discontinued pieces. Don’t even ask! Dept. 56 North Pole Collection has inspired some of our buildings over the years. We credit Dept. 56 for use of their design when we use one of their buildings for our Christmas Display.
When does the Display open? The number two most asked question. The display opens with a Candle Light Procession down Hillcrest Ave. on the first Friday of December. A section of Hillcrest Ave is closed for the Procession. People gather in front of the darkened House of the Dove, in the Street, waiting for the procession to come from upper Hillcrest Ave. If you have never been to the official opening it is quite a sight! Colorful Christmas banners, flags of the nations, White Dove kites, Livermore/Granada High School Choirs, Altar Servers from St. Michael Church and then the Deacon himself. In the year 2005 the Mayor of Livermore took part in the opening ceremonies.
Over the years I have collected the book marks for each year of the display that has the theme and a prayer by the deacon. They used to be given out by the Christmas staff. I did not see any this year. Have they stopped giving them out? Because of cost and clean-up, picking them up from the ground, we have stopped handing them out. Fewer are being printed, if you ask a member of the Christmas Crew for a book mark, they will get you one.
How long does it take to tear down the display & take down the lights? Deacon and crew make every effort to have everything down by Easter. Christmas 2005 display the take down was in record time. The middle of March 2006. The crew must be getting better and faster.
Does the Deacon and Crew worry about security issues? There are constant 24hr. video cameras recording. A state of the art system is in place throughout the property. Even if the power goes off the system will continue working. There are also alarms throughout the property. Visitors should feel safe! Smile you are on camera!