Most kids don’t put decorations on their wish list for Santa, but Dave Castle wasn’t like most kids. He’s been fascinated with making his yard glow for as long as he can remember. “When I was a kid, I asked for Christmas lights for Christmas,” he recalls. “I got my interest from my uncle, who had a love of lighting.”
The 43-year-old general contractor is now a dad to three who makes sure the jolly shines brightly at their Palm City household. Since 2010, Dave and his wife, Beth, have pulled out all the stops during the holiday season, lighting up their 3,200-square-foot home with a techy animated display synchronized to music and an assortment of blow mold decorations. The monthlong spectacular uses around 500,000 lights to create the magical sight.
Over the years, the Castles have accepted donations from visitors who view their display, which they passed on to local charities like House of Hope and Elevate Hope. “For us, Christmas is about giving, not receiving,” says Dave.
To be ready to flip the switch in December, Dave typically starts with builds in the summer and begins hanging lights in early fall. “I’ve been out there on 100-degree days, sweating, putting up Christmas lights,” he says.
His efforts have drawn attention far and wide. Every year, droves of locals have come by to get a peek at the display—one night, Beth recalls counting 640 cars passing by. And year after year, the casting team of ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight approached the family to compete on the television show. In 2021, they finally took the leap and agreed to participate in the competition, which aired in 2022.
For two days, cameras rolled as interior designer Taniya Nayak, the show’s cohost and judge, inspected the Castles’ display, including the mechanics of their 30-foot, 10,000-pixel motorized mega tree, which can be lowered on stormy and windy days.
Five weeks later, Nayak returned to surprise the family with the $50,000 grand prize, along with a gigantic light bulb–shaped trophy, which they proudly display year-round in their living room. “The whole neighborhood of Palm City felt like they won,” Dave says. “It was like the Super Bowl of Christmas.”
Last year, the Castles’ display had grown so large and popular, they moved it to the Martin County Fairgrounds. But this holiday season, the night sky of Palm City will be slightly dimmer, as Dave has decided to take a long overdue respite from it all. He’s passing the torch for the moment to his youngest daughter, 12-year-old Adelyn, who is creating a “Kidsmas” display at the Castle family home with her friends.