The nice list
After taking a much-needed break last year, Louie Murillo and his family are once again decking their halls, yard, and rooftop to bring back the Grapevine Santa House — a smash hit during the 2020 holiday season.
The half-acre property in the Western Oaks neighborhood of Grapevine is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of more than 1,000 Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program.
The charity's seasonal initiative provides new, unwrapped gifts to Tarrant County families facing financial hardship.
“You just see the joy in people’s faces,” Murillo says of the Santa House display. “They’re getting some great photo ops, but hopefully making memories out of all this.”
The 2020 Santa House — which came together as a pandemic-year project for the family — saw thousands of visitors and became a top attraction in DFW that holiday season. Murillo's search for special "blow mold" Santa statues had taken him around the country that year. Blow molds are hollow, plastic figures that were popular in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. They're rarely made now, and considered collectibles, costing anywhere from $30 to $140 apiece.
The decorations were set up around the property in vignettes, illuminated merry and bright with LED lighting. It was nothing less than a Santa spectacle.
The Santas are "blow molds," which were popular in the '50s. Photo courtesy of Louie Murillo
After a break in 2021, the Murillos decided to bring the Santa House display back this year, even bigger in size and mission.
Their goal in 2020 had been to raise $15,000 for Grace, which would help 120 kids. By December 1 that year, just a few days after turning the lights on, they were already at $9,000.
Murillo's “Grownup Christmas Wish” for 2022 is to raise $70,000 or more through Santa House to support Grace services and programs.
He expects at least $35,000 to come from an online Santa House Benefit given by visitors, guests, and well-wishers, he says. The rest, he hopes to raise from seven donors with generous hearts enough to give $5,000 each to be a part of this holiday cheer.
"The hope is, on Christmas Morning (or Christmas Eve, as some family traditions observe) the children open presents selected especially for them by their parents," the organization says. "The children do not need to know their Christmas came from a charity, only that their parents gave them a holiday merry and bright.
Guests can walk around the Santa displays each night. Photo courtesy of Louie Murillo
The Santa House lights will switch on Thanksgiving night and will be illuminated dusk-to-10:30 pm, Sundays through Thursdays, and dusk-to-11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays, through December 29.
The home is on a cul-de-sac in Grapevine's Western Oaks neighborhood, and visitors can park along the street.
Those interested in being matching donors should contact Mark Woolverton at Grace, 972-743-8556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.