Christian spirit of Christmas with lighted cross in Lake Wildwood |

Christian spirit of Christmas with lighted cross in Lake Wildwood

Bill Krapfel of Lake Wildwood has always put up Christmas lights and a cross, but for just one evening, Dec. 22, he decided to dim the rest of the display and leave only the cross aglow.
John Hart/ | The Union

If you build it, they will come. At least that’s the hope of Bill Krapfel, a retired teacher, longtime Nevada County resident and steadfast Christian who says he is trying to put the true Christian spirit of Christmas back in the spotlight.

Along with a traditional Christmas light display, Krapfel erects a cross every year. Nothing fancy, just some fencing standing about 4 feet high, wrapped with a string of red lights.

He was inspired three years ago while on a winter evening walk. As he was enjoying the Christmas light displays around his neighborhood, he noticed a yard with a 6-foot cross, draped with lights.

“I thought, well, that’s kind of bold, but that’s really the meaning. As I kept walking, I saw another one, then I got to thinking and this idea came. Before I got home, the idea had crystallized,” he said.

His idea was, for one evening, to remove all of the excess bling and dazzle by dimming the rest of the display and leaving only the cross aglow. He chose Dec. 22 and then began putting the word out to friends and family who might be interested in his mission.

“We have five kids, and we spend a lot of time opening presents and eating food,” Krapfel explained. “We say a little prayer and we go to Christmas Eve service, and Jesus is certainly there, but for one night, we can eliminate all that other stuff.”

He began his illuminating venture three years ago. Last year, he got a call from a friend in San Francisco who joined him in leaving just a cross lit. This year, he had friends in Arizona and Lake Wildwood follow suit.

“It’s slowly multiplying,” he said lightheartedly, hoping that it might gain some viral attention and grow in popularity. “It’s kind of like fishing – let’s put it out there and see what happens.”

While the topic of putting Christ back in Christmas can elicit strong (and even political) thoughts and opinions from all sides, confrontation is not what Krapfel had in mind when he began spreading his idea. He notes that the sentiment is nothing new and remembers that back in the 1960s, before he was a Christian, there were movements to put the focus of the season back on Jesus.

“It’s been going on for a really long time, but especially today, this is a season (where) you can really get wrung out,” he said. “I’m not mad. I’m not motivated by that. That’s not where I’m going at all. It’s just a fun thing.”

This is not Krapfel’s first effort to enlighten people about his faith. He writes short stories and poetry and recently self-published a novel about an objective look at his faith.

The book, “Trying to Make Sense of Everything as a Christian,” is available for 99 cents on and Barnes & Noble.

Krapfel published it on and set the price himself.

“I didn’t want to come up with any predetermined or safe answers. I reached a conclusion that surprised me, and if someone said that book made a difference to them, that would be cool,” Krapfel said.

As far as his goal to see the land illuminated with the sign of the cross for just one evening, “Well, it might peter out, or maybe some big church in Australia will pick it up … Can you just imagine what it would be would like?”

For more information about Krapfel’s book, writings or background, go to

Freelance writer Katrina Paz lives in Grass Valley.

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