Jim Jordan was sure he wouldn't be able to put up his elaborate "Peanuts'' Christmas display this year as he has for each year since 1967 because his home fell into foreclosure, but Costa Mesa officials came to the rescue Monday with an announcement that it will be relocated to City Hall.
Jordan was so inspired by the 1965 animated television special "A Charlie Brown Christmas'' that he built a display outside the Costa Mesa home he grew up in.
The 44-year tradition was apparently going to end when he lost the home, which he was renting out, Jordan said.
"I was absolutely destroyed for weeks," Jordan said. "I have never had anything hit me as hard as this because I'm thinking so badly about how many people I let down."
The display—which Jordon calls an animated Christmas card using Charlie Brown Christmas characters-- has attracted over 80,000 people and is a neighborhood tradition. Last year, Jordon gave away 6600 cups of hot apple cider and, when some visitors forgot their cameras, Jordan's family ended up giving away up to 3,000 free digital photos of children sitting with the event's Santa Clause.
"I'm the guy that people came to when they were in trouble and I helped. So for it to be on the other foot, is a real hard pill to swallow," Jordon said. "It's very humbling."
When he started telling regular visitors to the Christmas display that he wouldn't be able to do it this year they started calling City Hall.
"Never under estimate the power of soccer Moms," Jordan said. "They became enraged and started making phone calls. People started showing up. Signs for 'Save the Snoopy House' went up. It was an incredible experience to see the outpouring of public support."
Then came a call from city officials this weekend.
"They said, 'How would you like it if we move it to the front lawn of City Hall,' '' Jordan said. "I was floored. It's incredible. I can't tell you how absolutely heartbroken I've been over this."
Jordan is still wrangling with the bank in court to try to hang on to the home and keep its buyer from moving in. Jordan said he hired someone to renegotiate his mortgage when the economy started to sag and his contractor business suffered, but when he received a notice of default and called bank officials he was told no one had contacted them.
"This absolutely humbles me right now that there are so many people in the city enraged by this,'' Jordan said. "They're calling their councilmen and planning commissioners. I've been told the phones are ringing off the hook.''
Until last year Jordan refused any donations, but now he's accepting contributions to help him in his legal battle to hang on to the home. A few children this weekend set up a lemonade stand and donated $237 to the legal fund, Jordan said.
Meanwhile, a Costa Mesa-based towing company and a team of volunteers are working to move all of the decorations to City Hall, Jordan said. He hopes to flip the switch on the annual display with City Council members on Dec. 13.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to save a beloved Costa Mesa tradition, and allow residents to come out and visit their City Hall,'' said Tom Hatch, the city's chief executive officer. "We were pleased we could help.''
Contributions made out to Snoopy House can be sent to Post Office Box 2852, Costa Mesa, 92628, Jordan said.