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Famous holiday display on Knob Hill returns to light up San Marcos

Christmas on Knob Hill
Posted at 5:58 PM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 19:37:27-05

SAN MARCOS (KGTV) - — After canceling in 2020 due to the pandemic, the legendary display known as "Christmas on Knob Hill" has returned, lighting up a San Marcos neighborhood.

“I just like to make people happy. I see children smile and it makes me happy," says Bill Gilfillen, who has made a point of putting up elaborate displays since 1988. Gilfillen's front yard and roof are filled with statues and lights. There are several versions of Santa Claus, as well as popular pop culture characters. Gilfillen says there are at least 60,000 individual lights, although he says his collection has grown since he last counted 12 years ago. Gilfillen began setting up back in September, putting in about nine hours each day, with the help of his family.

The ability to put up his display each year fulfills a childhood dream. “I was from a very poor family back in Ohio and at Christmas time, we had very few Christmas presents. And our Christmas was to go around and look at the different lights and decorations.”

At age 83, Gilfillen says health issues have made the work more challenging. He may put out a call for volunteers to help in 2022; however, he has no plan to stop the annual tradition. “As long as I can climb the ladder. Long as I can do it without causing myself real severe damage, I’ll continue to do it.”

The lights will be on from 5-9pm each evening through December 30th at Gilfillen's home at 1639 Knob Hill Road in San Marcos. Gilfillen asks that those who choose to park and walk up to enjoy a closer look wear masks for the protection of others.