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Backyard Christmas tree tradition returns to Levittown

The Schupbach family of Copper Lane in Levittown

The Schupbach family of Copper Lane in Levittown has run a charity Christmas tree lighting in their backyard every year since 2004, benefitting the Make-A-Wish foundation. Credit: Handout

The Schupbach family raised many eyebrows last year when they didn’t put on the traditional Christmas lights display they had been running for nearly a decade at their Levittown home.

On Saturday, the tradition will return.

Kathy Schupbach, 49, and her family started a community lighting of its 40-plus-foot Vermont Pine tree in 2002 in honor of Schupbach’s late brother-in-law, Bobby Schupbach, who died of congestive heart failure in July of that year. He had joked that the family should light the huge tree in the backyard when they first moved to the house at 15 Copper Lane in 2001.

Schupbach turned the lighting into a charity event in 2004, collecting donations and running raffles to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a national organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases.

“After two years of doing this we said, ‘You know what, we should do this for some kind of charity,’” she said. “What’s Christmas all about? It’s gifts for children. So we contacted Make-A-Wish.”

Kathie Lombardi, Make-A-Wish of Metro New York and Western New York’s coordinator for national and community alliances, said the Schupbach tree lighting has raised more than $20,000 for the foundation since 2004.

“The Schupbach family tree-lighting is such a wonderful holiday tradition and reflects the true meaning of this season of sharing and caring,” she said in an e-mail.

Last year the family took a break to focus on the health of Schupbach’s mother, Marge Hanly, who survived a bout with stomach cancer.

Saturday’s ceremony is open to the community and kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Santa Claus makes an appearance at the lighting every year, arriving in different ways, including on an ATV several times. Schupbach said this year’s arrival plan is a surprise.

“We love doing it,” she said. “And it’s important. Christmas is all about the children and giving back.”

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