“Dale’s decorating and turning on all the lights — I do the little things, he does the big things — and I knew I couldn’t do it,” Julie Marks, 57, told CNN. “He started talking about it and I was pretty sure it was impossible.”
Local contractor Bob Coffey learned about their situation from a mutual friend and he and four of his employees came Monday to do the job for free.
Coffey said he remembers driving around the neighborhood as a kid to see the lights, so he knows it’s an important tradition.
Dale Marks sat on the porch as the crew settled in.
“You could just tell he wanted to be there. So he’d just say, ‘Hey, come here, I need this here. I need this here,'” Coffey said. “He knew to a T where everything was going.”
When the crew was done for the day, Coffey said he told Marks he was happy to help.
“He thanked me, he cried a little, I got tears,” said Coffey. “You could see how much he appreciated it, and that makes it worth it.”
The Marks had more decorations coming up, so Coffey and his crew come back to set them up.
Julie Marks said her husband exaggerated a bit on Monday as his severe cough is getting worse outside in the cold, so he rested to regain his strength.
She said they both got Covid-19 in mid-September and she recovered after about two weeks, but Dale was sicker.
He collapsed one night and was rushed to hospital for what later turned out to be strokes on each side of his brain. He later had a heart attack while being treated for blockages in his carotid arteries, she said.
Dale Marks spent a total of 28 days in the hospital, she said.
Now home, he looks forward to the nighttime parade of cars that will pass through their neighborhood from Thanksgiving Eve to New Years.
Dale Marks collected donations and handed out candy canes to people who passed by, but this year he will be watching from his window, his wife said.
She said they don’t turn on their lights until Thanksgiving night because they want to focus on thanking them for all their blessings.
“It’s the rewarding season,” she said. “We don’t want to celebrate Christmas too soon, but we are grateful.”
Marks said she was a single mother before meeting Dale 30 years ago and had to do without it, so she hopes this year’s food campaign will bring in even more donations.
“Nothing we have, we think, belongs to us. So if we can love other people and raise money and food for the food bank, we’ll do that every year until we can’t anymore,” she said.