For 37 consecutive firsts of December, at precisely 5:30 p.m., Domenico Masdea clicked open his garage door to reveal an enchanting Christmas wonderland.
If not for his concerns about attracting crowds during the coronavirus pandemic, the Tustin resident would have unveiled his elaborate Italian village for its 38th year this past season.
“He could not have dealt with feeling even a little responsible for someone’s illness,” said his daughter Liliana Dawson.
On Feb. 4, Masdea himself died of coronavirus at age 72.
If his cherished tradition is to carry on, someone else will need to piece together the miniature ice skaters, fir trees, reindeer, churches, shops, carnival rides, waterfall and twinkling lights – those hundreds of details that breathe life into the tableau.
Admirers from around Orange County made Maseda’s garage an annual must-see. On Christmas Eve, when Baby Jesus at last joined the manger scene, hundreds of visitors came on their way to or from church. The attraction ran through the Epiphany, Jan. 6.