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November 28, 2016

By Ken Wagner

What a wonderful weekend we just had after doing Thanksgiving with our family at home on Thursday, Friday was go day. We were on the road to San Jose at 7 AM and a short 8 hours later we were in the city below San Francisco ready to have a fun time. The main thrust for the weekend was Daveís Annual Lawn Lighting at Dave and Muriel Pusateriís home on Saturday. Their home and yard were covered by unique large lighted individual pieces that included visions of the North Pole with Santa and his reindeer, plus a few sprint cars, a helicopter and a train, many of which had some lighting changes that gave you a motion experience in color. All this complete with a total of 66,000 lights created by Trophy Dave himself. The first lighting would be at after dinner on Saturday night and included a few cocktails.

For the party pics of the Lawn Lighting b Steve Lafond Click here to view.

We pulled into their neighborhood and a lot was going on getting the house ready to entertain 180 invited guests. The pair along with Marilyn, were scurrying around putting it all together and we marveled at the organization it took. Before long it was off to dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant with Dave, Muriel, Marilyn, Murielís sister, and us two. Dinner was so tasty and I wish we had one in in Las Vegas. Itís hard to get those special flavors like that, so I was pleased. Muriel asked me one question that floored me at dinner. Did I bring my camera, Egad! I had hurried out of the house so fast that morning I forgot. I always take pics of their events and publish, but not this time. Not to worry, world famous Steve Lafond to the rescue. I sent him a message and he was good to go for the next day.

A quiet evening visiting until it was time to get some rest. Saturday morning came early and the work was already started when I rolled out of bed. About 40 tables and many chairs had to be set up then decorated for the night. The serving pans plus the warming ďovensĒ had to be set up, and all this while showers were coming on and off thruout the entire day and evening. It never stopped a thing as they continued on like it was dry. Daveís granddaughter Jessica, who always bartended at the Trophy Cup and the Lawn Lighting, got her area set up with all booze possible. Her Santa outfit was fitting and cute. A dozen EZ-Ups were set up in the backyard to make it sort of dry and the work continued. Tables were in the large 3 car garage plus more on the far side of the house with an additional covered garage parking area, so all of the diners would keep dry no problem! Only those going to and from Jessicaís bar area would get a tiny bit wet when it was coming down. Nobody seemed to notice as the activity was fast and furious going to the food serving areas and the deserts inside.

As everything came together, Dave took off to get the Mexican food donated by a local restaurant. Awesome food and I canít spell or say the name correctly. Taqueria Tlaquepaque is the name and I dare you to get it right! The deserts were plentiful, but as the evening began, they looked so inviting, they were mostly gone before the appetizers were set out? I know that Muriel had made some decadent brownies, Pat Williams brought her usual great assortment of chocolate chip cookies (that were the first to go as everyone who ever had them before didnít want to miss out, including me as I cheated one). Peanut butter cookies, small apricot pies and some rum balls, her stuff is to die for. Plus a lady from Seeís candy brought too much of that, some great unique cupcakes from a local bakery via the Lafondís and more I canít remember. The table was packed and it was shocking to see how fast it unloaded. It looked like a tornado hit it very early in the night.

After the appetizers were finished up, the main meal of burritos, enchiladas and much more hit the plates of the guests. The wine was served in large wine glasses with the word ďBelieveĒ etched on the side as a remembrance of what this event was all about: raising money for the Make a Wish foundation.

Dave and his many faithful followers have created over one million dollars that has gone to Make a Wish, with over $125,000 presented recently at the last Trophy Cup in October. So to explain this eveningís event, it starts off the collecting for the 24th annual Trophy Cup next year and continues with a golf Tournament chaired by Ernie Gomez and his sons, and culminates at the annual Trophy Cup with a silent auction and selling of the event T-shirt and other special promotions. All of the items sold or auctioned off are donated to the cause and all the money earned goes directly to the Make a Wish pot. . And thatís how all this comes together to put on a great race, paying great prize money and giving the proceeds to the Make a Wish foundation. Pretty dynamic and creative and it all comes from Trophy Dave and his Wish Maker and wife Muriel.

The food and visiting continued until the call for the lighting went out as the attendeeís filed outside on the cool night with no rain at the moment, and they each were handed a bottle of water that was labeled with a Make a Wish emblem and lit up red or green. They were asked to light emí up as the house suddenly went from dark to technicolor and the house glowed brilliantly. What a sight to see and cheering and clapping were heard, then everyone moved around to take it all in. People wandered around outside until they went back to finish eating and drinking and top off the night until it was all done.

A lot of people then began breaking down tables and stacking them and the chairs up, then trash collecting began and taking down the EZ-UPS until most of the guests left . The remainder went inside to warm up and visit for a bit. The event was toast around 9:30 or so, but the last dogs didnít move on until nearly 2 AM, as frivolity continued until sleep was a must. What a party!

Sunday Morning was late for me and Mrs Wags when we rolled out about 9 AM. Dave and Muriel were outside sweeping and rearranging their back yard to where it was before the party, so plenty more was to be done on this day, our getaway day. Dave had a few lights to be repaired on the collection box that was out by the curb where people could drive by and put money in. Dave reported that there was money in it before the part even started!

What a great event that went on perfectly in spite of the showers that continued to come down all day and evening. The care and feeding of all Trophy Cup events are organized and directed by this pair who had over 180 people traipsing thru their beautiful home. They will continue to have weekend events featuring appearances of Santa, Mrs Claus and a bunch of Elves the kids get to meet, up until Christmas, so go on by and the kids get a present and a visit with Santa.

We visited for an hour while they actually relaxed briefly, but as we loaded and headed off, they still had a lot to do to put everything back in shape. Terry and I enjoyed the fast paced fun and look forward to next year when a plane will be an easier vehicle to make this trip. Thanks so much for allowing us to be invited as I fully understand what it takes to pull off a major event like this. Congratulations to Dave and Muriel for what they do, as it is way more than just a racing deal, but a community affair that is well received in San Jose. And did I mention they raise a lot of money for Make a Wish?

We had arranged a quick brunch with the Lafondís on the way out of town, so hustled over to their abode and followed them to Hanniganís in Los Gatoís not far from their place. Great food and company was had with Steve and Kim, before we had to get on the road home. Over 500 mile thru Holiday traffic wasnít going to be a snap, but kisses and hugs later, we were off! Thanks for showing us your favorite Sunday brunch hangout.

Going south soon became bottled up until we cleared Gilroy and headed east on 152. When we came upon highway 5 and pulled on the onramp, it was clear that after 5 minutes and we hadnít moved, it was not to be our planned route home like normal. Donít know what was causing the problem, but I went a little off-road to get back on the 152 and continued on to the highway 99 that would take us South to Bakersfield and the route up towards Tahachipi and then to Barstow. There were signs along 99 that said ďholiday traffic, watch for cars slowing and stoppedĒ, and they meant it! It was stop and go until we got on highway 58 going up into apple country and it was good most of the rest of the way home. All along the route from the get go, I was amazed at the traffic coming towards us. After dark it was a white stripe with very few breaks as the other side was going very s l o w! We manage to leave the Lafondís hangout about 1:30 in the afternoon and arrived at Wagsland right at 10:00 pm. Not bad considering the bottlenecks we ventured thru and a stop for gas and food along the way.

I am sorry I missed the Turkey Night event, but not sorry I missed the cold weather and the 98 lap event won by Kyle Larson. I got plenty of pics from Steve Lafond and will have then up in a few days. The fotoís Steve took of the lawn lighting will be up by the time you read this! Thanks to all I got to meet and greet over the weekend it was fun and thanks again to the Pusateriís for their time and fun with them. As I said they will be busy lighting up their neighborhood until Xmas so go by and drop some money in their collection box and say hi to Santa for me. Until my next adventure, I am so thankful I can still get out and have fun with you all!

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