Spreading cheer while helping others: Bob Cissell putting old passion to good use

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 9:47 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - One Birmingham man is making cars stop in their tracks with his Christmas decorations in his front yard.

At Santa’s Magic Forest, 91-year-old Bob Cissel is using his passion for building to help others.

Decades ago, Cissell got his start in design.

“You want me to start from the beginning?” He asked with a laugh.

The Army vet spent 26 years as Blach’s Department Store’s visual director.

“I didn’t work a day, I loved it, I loved it,” Cissell said.

He still has the creative itch.

“Love a challenge, a design challenge, and this presents one believe me,” Cissell added.

For four years he’s created a Christmas masterpiece for the Wacky Tacky Lights tour benefitting Fresh Air Family’s Gross Out Camp scholarship fund for kids who are escaping violence.

“They need it, they need help,” Cissell said.

This theme for this year’s yard: holidays!

“People who have been quarantined for COVID-19, didn’t get to celebrate the holidays and special days this past year,” Cissell said.

Cissell starts prepping for the tour in February, building everything but the stuffed animals by hand.

“Over 1600 hours, I go kinda slow, but I want it to be right too,” Cissell said.

It’s hard work, but Cissell said it’s worth it, to help out those in need.

“They drive by and say ‘hey Santa’, thank you, and it makes it worthwhile, but knowing where the money goes is my main motive,” Cissell said.

If you want to see the lights, the Wacky Tacky tour stops by next week as well. Click here to reserve a spot.


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