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Turlock church creates free Christmas light show
The Rock light show
The Rock Church's Rock'n Christmas Light Drive-In will run nightly from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Christmas Eve.

One Turlock church is spreading joy during the holiday season with a dazzling light display which gives spectators a safe show while reminding them about the true meaning of Christmas. 

The Rock Church kicked off its Rock’n Christmas Light Drive-in last weekend, providing community members with a 15-minute spectacle worthy of the North Pole. The light show features 18,000 lights, a 35-foot Christmas tree and beloved holiday hits, all programmed to create an in-sync production which took months to create. 

The Rock Church has participated in the annual downtown Christmas parade for the last eight years, senior pastor Kevin Heppner said, and knew that it would likely be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In order to give the community something fun to do during the holiday season — a time typically filled with plenty of Christmas-themed activities throughout the city — The Rock Church crew began planning their light show in mid-September and began to assemble the lights in October. 

On the show’s opening night on Dec. 5, over 300 people came through the parking lot at Light of Christ Lutheran Church to watch.

“People have just gone really wild thanking us. It seems to just really give people hope,” Heppner said. “We’re not a big church, but we love to do something where we can reach out to the community, provide some hope in these tough times and, of course, communicate the message of Christmas.”

According to family pastor Justin Lopes, a small team from The Rock Church, which included a couple of engineers and even some theater majors, was able to figure out the complicated equipment. While the display’s structure was completed by mid-November, it took an entire team effort in the following days to program the lights and music.

“It’s very different than just plugging lights into an outlet. It’s telling the electricity where to go, how to light up and what to actually do,” Lopes said. “That was a challenge in itself, trying to figure that out from scratch.”

Their hard work paid off, however, when the show ran for the first time last weekend without a hitch. Plenty of The Rock Church parishioners helped assemble the lights, Lopes added, and have the blisters to prove it. 

“We know that this year has been tough on many people, so we were hoping this would bring a little bit of joy during this time and remind people there is hope and that this will get better,” Lopes said. 

For Heppner, Lopes and The Rock Church, spreading the Christmas message with the community has been worth the effort. 

“It’s so fun because you watch the light show and it’s loud and bright, but then the real meaning of Christmas just kind of hits you,” Heppner said. “People just leave with hope. They’re excited and they just want to tell others about the show and, of course, the Christian message.”

The Rock Church is hosting the Rock’n Christmas Light Drive-in every night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Christmas Eve. The show runs every 15 minutes and is located at 4510 Crowell Rd.