Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion The Klimke family's lights display, pictured Dec. 10, 2015 in Nikiski, Alaska, draws viewers from around the central Kenai Peninsula area every Christmas.

Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion The Klimke family's lights display, pictured Dec. 10, 2015 in Nikiski, Alaska, draws viewers from around the central Kenai Peninsula area every Christmas.

Let there be light: Nikiski Fire Association to host fundraiser for Klimpke family

The “Christmas guy” of Nikiski who continually brings holiday cheer to the community with elaborate light decorations will get a present in return this year.

John Klimpke is known around town for setting up an extensive light show, complete with a Santa and sometimes reindeer, that people travel from far and wide to see each season. After members of the Nikiski Fire Department heard about the accumulating medical bills Klimpke and his family are facing after he underwent several surgeries recently, members of the Nikiski Fire Association decided to lend a helping hand.

The association will host a fundraiser for Klimpke at 6 p.m. on Dec. 3 at the North Peninsula Recreation Center in Nikiski. Attendees can participate in a silent auction and prime rib dinner, or donate directly to accounts set up for the family.

It all began with inquiries about Klimpke’s famous seasonal lights, said Jesse Spurgeon, Klimpke’s son-in-law who is an engineer and paramedic with Nikiski Fire. Spurgeon said his coworkers are fans of the lights Klimpke puts up and were also aware of his medical issues. Klimpke works year-round to perfect his lineup of lights and lawn decorations, Spurgeon said.

“That all comes out of his pocket,” he said.

Klimpke said that each year after putting on the light show — he leaves them on for about a month — he is left with an approximately $1,500 electricity bill. He has been electrifying the neighborhood with holiday cheer for more than a decade, starting off with a single plastic snowman outside he is house. Klimpke said he put it outside of a bay window on the house they were working on as a way to inspire neighbors to decorate for the season.

He still has that original snowman today.

“I’ve been doing it for close to 13 years,” Klimpke said.

Visitors from all over the Kenai Peninsula, and even as far as Anchorage, have flocked to see Klimpke’s lights over the years, he said. Trying to switch things up and keep the display interesting from year to year can be a challenge in itself, in part because visitors become attached to the decorations, he said.

“I’ve got some that I take down, and people squabble because it was their favorite thing,” Klimpke said with a laugh.

Klimpke plans to continue putting on the display while his health allows him.

“I hope to keep doing it as long as I can,” he said.

The Nikiski Fire Association is a nonprofit that has hosted fundraisers events before. Members hope to raise $25,000 for the Klimpke family to help alleviate some medical bills, said Harrison Deveer, association president.

The fundraiser will include a prime rib dinner, with $30 tickets for adults and $15 tickets for those age 12 and younger. Deveer said people are welcome to attend without buying the dinner, though.

The association is still looking for items for the silent auction. If it gets a few more big-ticket items, he said, there might be a live auction as well. Those who would like to make monetary donations to the Klimpke family can inquire about two accounts set up in their name at either of the Nikiski fire stations, Deveer said.

Those involved with the fundraiser know first hand how special the Klimpke holdiay lights can be.

“Every year I take my kids to the lights, and they love it,” Deveer said.

 

Megan Pacer can be reached at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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