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Time-honored tradition of Christmas giving lives on in San Jose neighborhood

By Maria Medina

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    SAN JOSE (KPIX) — One San Jose man has spread Christmas cheer to an entire neighborhood for decades, even during the pandemic.

“Children that came to see Santa are now parents with their children here,” said David Pusateri. “It’s pretty cool.”

Every year on Cherry Ave., Pusateri decorates his home with 66,000 twinkling lights. He then gathers Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to meet with children who live nearby or come from miles away.

Kids line up outside Pusateri’s home and patiently wait their turn to tell Santa and Mrs. Claus what they want for Christmas. They’re then given a toy and a candy cane after their visit.

Brandon Bonnifield’s parents used to take him to holiday light displays. Now he’s passing on the tradition to his kids.

“I was able to bring my nephews, my son and kind of make that a tradition,” said Bonnifield. “It’s kind of like sharing your childhood with your own kids.”

But there’s more to Pusateri’s impressive holiday light display. He’s also created a tradition of giving back.

He raises money for the Make A Wish Foundation.

“We’ve given Make A Wish $2.350 million,” said Pusateri. “When you see those children you feel very, very, very good.”

He accepts donations at his home during the Christmas light display, and also raises money with a yearly sprint car race that he said has gotten bigger every year. Every penny is given to the foundation that supports critically ill children.

Not even last year’s pandemic lockdown could put a pause on the cause.

“There were more cars here last year than I’ve ever seen before,” Pusateri said.

It’s a tradition about teaching the next generation that the holidays are about giving back just as Pusateri has done for so many years, and he said he’s not giving up anytime soon.

“I’m getting older, everything’s taking a lot longer to do now,” he said. “I don’t know. I’ll do it as long as I can do it.”

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