FREMONT -- Inspired by his childhood memories of San Jose's Christmas in the Park display, Rich Gonzales decided decades ago to build his own version of the holiday walk-through of lights and animated characters.

But after his granddaughter Sophia Marie "Boo Boo" Rodriguez, 5, was diagnosed with retinal cancer two years ago, he's included in the display information and the opportunity to help kids who are facing the danger of losing their sight or even their lives.

Last year, Gonzales collected about $550 in donations for retinoblastoma research at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

He even constructed a large display especially for his granddaughter, who he said showed incredible strength through her treatment. She's cured but lost her left eye to the cancer.

"The family took it all pretty hard, and after the surgery we were all worried about her," Gonzales said. "But she didn't want to take her pain medication or anything. She was actually very good about it."

Gonzales, who started his display with a couple of animated rabbits and a horse and carriage combo, estimates he has at least 40 characters now, the bulk of which move.

He said a favorite display is the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, who sings and dances to tunes from the animated holiday classic.

Gonzales said he'd like to see people learn about retinoblastoma as well as enjoy the display, and donations are optional.

"People can leave whatever they want to leave," said Gonzales, 57. "A nickel, a dime, it's on their own."


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The display, at 38643 Glencoe Drive in Fremont, is open daily from 6 to 10 p.m.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.