By Emily Turner

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — Coffey Park residents whose homes burned down aren’t letting the wine country wildfires break their Christmas spirit.

And it’s all thanks to a man who used to live in the neighborhood.

It is burnt and charred by day, but by night, Coffey Park is something else entirely.

Thanks to Ronnie Duvall and his crew, the neighborhood is illuminated and festive, even if its residents don’t quite feel that way.

Mahrya Mirante lives in Coffey Park.

“That actually brings a little bit of hope and a little bit of joy,” Mirante said. “I have not been able to get into the Christmas spirit at all. I’m trying to, because I have an 11-year-old son, trying to make it as normal as possible for him. But we haven’t even gotten a tree or decorated.”

So Ronnie Duvall decorates for them.

He lost his home in the Atlas Fire and used to live in Coffey Park, so this is a way to cope and to give hope.

“You can burn our residential community down, you can take any of our personal effects, but you don’t have an ability to steal our Christmas spirit,”Duvall said. “So, this is a way to show that we are Coffey strong, we are Sonoma County and we are people that will rise above these ashes.”

What started with 30 strands of lights a few days ago has now become a full-blown holiday affair.

More than 30 trees have been donated for vacant lots, more than 500 strands of lights are hung and even the most devastated fire survivors admit that it is helping them cope.

It’s a holiday-style rehabilitation of spirit that starts up at 5:30 p.m. when the sun goes down.

With each twinkle and each tree, neighbors say, they have been given a gift that is more valuable than anything they could open Christmas morning.

“Coming down here last night I was in awe,” Mirante said. “It brought tears to my eyes, but it was tears of joy, and feeling like we — as a community, as a neighborhood — have banned together and tried to make the best of a horrible situation.”

The best way to see the lights is to take a drive down Hopper Avenue. To donate time or resources go to facebook.com/CoffeyParkChristmas.

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