'Christmas in the Valley' returns to spread hope during COVID-19 pandemic

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Since 2013 the Chaput family has turned their Eau Claire home into "Christmas in the Valley" over the holiday season.

The lights usually turn off at New Years, but the family decided to put the display back up to spread some hope during this unprecedented time.

For years, their home on Redwood Drive in Eau Claire has turned into a destination light display over Christmas.

Brian Chaput had just finished taking down all the lights, when his family decided they needed to do something during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Less than a week before we started this I finally got everything up, out, and packed away," he says. "Nice and happy that it was done for the season and my wife and son came up with the idea that we're going to do this again and got me to set it back up again."

After reviewing the governor's 'Safer At Home' order to make sure they would comply, the Chaput's decided to put back up their display, known as "Christmas in the Valley", to give people hope.

"There's a lot of uncertainty in the air right now. A lot of people not sure what's going to happen, you know with their jobs and everything around them. So just trying to add a little bit to the community, bring them some hope. Give them a reason to go out and have a little togetherness even though there's not much to do anymore," said Chaput.

The lights will turn on from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. seven nights a week.

People are welcome to stop by any day during that time, but are encouraged to stay inside of their vehicles to keep everybody safe.

"Our lights are sequenced to music and it is broadcast over a radio station so they can just sit in their own vehicle, watch a show from the comfort of their car and stay away from others so it doesn't make anybody uncomfortable," explained Chaput.

The display returned on Tuesday night, and the response has already been greater than the Chaput's expected over the past 24 hours.

While life trying to 'flatten the curve' may last for a while, the lights will also stay until we make it out of the dark.

"As long as it takes. I mean unfortunately none of us know how long this is going to go. We hope it's over sooner than later, but we're just going to take it day by day and hope it makes everybody happy," said Chaput.

Usually, Christmas in the Valley collects donations like clothes and blankets to give to the local homeless population.

Now, instead of those types of donations they are asking for people who are able to contact the Red Cross and donate blood.

The lights can be found at E3860 Redwood Dr, just south of Eau Claire.