Spectacular Christmas tradition goes dark in Cherry Hill

Mike DeNardo
September 07, 2019 - 4:00 am
Croge house in Cherry Hill from November 2018.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio


CHERRY HILL, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) —  It's the end of a popular holiday tradition in Cherry Hill.

For 21 years, neighbors Frank Italiano and Dave Croge tried to outdo each other with their Christmas light displays. Barely an inch of their properties wasn't illuminated in one way or another, and crowds flocked to their homes across from the Cherry Hill municipal building.

Croge told us last November that the rivalry got to the point where he would hide decorations until the last minute, to top his neighbor.

"He buys something big, I get something," he tells KYW Newsradio. "He'd do this, I'd do this. And then we called it -- what? The Battle of the Lights!"

The display was so beloved that Croge said continuing it was his mother's dying wish.

"My mother, when she was dying, she said, 'Do me one favor.' I said, 'What's that, Mom?' She said, 'Don't not put the lights up,'" he explained.

The tradition, though, is now over. Sadly, Croge died this past week at the age of 72. And Erika Italiano posted on Facebook that her father would soon be moving from the Mercer Street home.

She posted an emotional 'thank you' to the visitors who kept the tradition alive for two decades.