Driving by the Central Park holiday light display is always a special experience in the season where the daytime is the shortest and a welcome place to celebrate Christmas. Some may remember where many of those displays and lights came from.  

When I first moved to Warsaw 30 years ago, I was told to take time with my family to head down County Farm Road until you got to this amazing light presentation at the home of Bruce and Ann Howe at “Dream Lake.”  Even as we drove that way we saw the glow in the distance and then stopped to walk the paths illuminated in the darkness.  

My adult children still remember this as one of their fondest holiday memories of their childhood. I became friends with Bruce when I joined the Warsaw Rotary Club and also got to know Ann. Each year, the display grew as “angels” would find Christmas decorations and lights that other communities were no longer using.  Finally, Ann put her foot down due to all the work it took to put the display up and the overwhelming crowds at their home as they donated it to the city of Warsaw.  

That first year at Central Park found Bruce and Ann beaming as the municipal property transformed into a winter wonderland.  I always wondered what drove Bruce to be so passionate about those lights and decorations.  I knew he had been in Christian music publishing as a career but a deeper drive was present.  

I had the privilege to accompany Bruce on an Honor Flight in September 2015 to Washington, DC.  He wore his “Ike” jacket with his ribbons and first sergeant stripes, which resulted in him receiving attention, especially from those who had been in the military. He had served in Europe in World War II landing on the beach on D-Day 2 and earned five battle stars all the way to Germany.  

When we got to Arlington Cemetery, I discovered why he was driven to have those lights.  

“Hawkeye,”  he told me as tears filled his eyes, “Many nights it was so dark over there because we could not use light, even a match.  I saw death and destruction and how evil men could be to one another. But we always looked for light and hope that we would return home.”  

Less than a month later, Bruce stepped into the light of eternity and saw His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

John 1:4 says, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Christmas is about light because Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness.  He is our only Hope.  

So when you pass Central Park, remember many of the lights you see came from a man (with the support of his bride) who wanted to share that darkness will not win.  Bruce fought to see the light of liberty overcome Nazism but more importantly came home to share Christmas by piercing the darkness with light, reminding us that God’s Son has overcome evil as the Light of the World.  Have a blessed Christmas!

Ken Locke is community ministries director of The Salvation Army in Warsaw and director of the Greater Warsaw Ministerial Association. Have ideas for this column? Go to www.gwma.info.