If you've grown up around here or have at least lived in the area for a few years, the photo above needs no caption. The image is immediately recognizable, as is its importance in local history and tradition.
According to the Shadi Holiday Display website, it all began in 1949 with a big star placed in a vacant lot. It's hard to think that with the placement of that star, Sundar Shadi understood that he would be delighting throngs of visitors for decades with an ever-expanding display of holiday happiness guaranteed to bring delight to even the Scroogiest of humbuggers.
Of course, we all know the humble star display led to the careful handcrafting of angels, wise men, and a barnyard full of paper mache animals as the crowds grew larger over the years. But few will argue it was also the spirit of Shadi's offering that kept people coming back for generations and cemented the display's place in the heart of locals.
Shadi died in 2002 at the age of 101, just one month shy of his 102nd birthday.
The community was determined that the display would continue. It was ultimately purchased by Soroptimists International of El Cerrito and moved from the Shadi home to its new location on Moeser Lane. In the last few years, volunteers have worked diligently to keep the display in good repair and have been able to assemble it with the hope that the life and spirit of Sundar Shadi will continue to be celebrated and enjoyed.
This year volunteers are needed to help continue the tradition. With over 500 pieces in the Sundar Shadi Holiday Display, many helping hands are necessary to set them up. Please help if you are able! Saturday, December 17th, at 9 am on Moeser Lane. Sturdy shoes and work gloves are strongly recommended. For more information, please visit https://shadiholidaydisplay.com/history/