Taylor Rental hosts annual holiday event
Each December, Dave Bardusch, president of Taylor Rental in Webster, N.Y., clears everything out of his 1,600-sq.-ft. showroom to make space for dozens of auction and raffle items, as many as 12 chili cook-off contestants and more than 1,000 people who will come to eat, vote and bid.
Next door, Matt Frank, owner of Hank’s Ice Cream and Roast Beef Sandwiches, prepares a holiday light display and arranges for horse-drawn wagon rides, fireworks and a visit from Santa and his elves. Their efforts combine to create the annual Holiday Lighting of the Lights event, which benefits the Webster Comfort Care Home hospice center and Finger Lakes Regional Burn Association.
The event started as a small light display at Frank’s private residence in 2005. “He would spend months getting ready for the lighting and he would create this whole skit where the lights didn’t work and the Grinch came out of the chimney and so on,” Bardusch says.
“As it grew, Frank started taking donations for Webster Comfort Care and it eventually got too big for his house and neighborhood. In 2009, he decided to decorate his business instead and he and I started working with Dave Galeazzo, the former superintendent of Public Works for the Village of Webster, on a bigger idea. That’s where the other activities came in, including Santa riding in with his elves and the Grinch on a fire truck. We hosted about 300 people in a few tents in the parking lot the first year. Now we have it in the showroom and attendance has grown to around 1,000,” he says.
A wide variety of raffle prizes are donated each year from local businesses. In 2012 they had more than 130 prize donations, including a weekend getaway from an RV company and a professionally installed granite countertop.
“The most popular prizes are always the big-screen TVs for the adults and the bikes for the kids. This year a local bike shop donated a $500 bike for one of the grand prizes,” Bardusch says.
The combination of the cook-off and raffle brought in more than $3,000 this year and the event has raised more than $9,000 to date.
In addition to year-round planning and preparation, Bardusch and his staff members spend a significant amount of time getting things back to normal afterwards.
“After the event we completely strip and wax the showroom floor before bringing everything back in. This year it took us three weeks to get it all back together. We’re still open for business during this time, but it’s a slow time of year, so we can afford to do it,” he says.
The staff of Taylor Rental also received an assist this year from some members of the local basketball team. Bardusch’s son and some of his teammates added to the community feel of the event by volunteering for the evening, helping with organization and last-minute details.
Though the event is limited in some ways by the space available, they still have plans to build on what they have. “One of the things we’re looking at for the future is investing in an automated lighting and music system,” Bardusch says, adding that they already have some ideas about how to raise money for that while reserving the proceeds of the event itself for the charities.