TONIGHT’S LIGHTS: Return of the Gai Family display

A longtime Christmas-season landmark in West Seattle is shining again. We received multiple tips abut the return of lights to the Gai Family house in the 3200 block of 36th SW. Not just the lights, but also the Madonna:

The family retired the display in 1996, according to a newspaper ad that year thanking the community. That was nine years before the death of patriarch Phil Gai, who with his brother Henry ran their namesake breadmaking company. One of the tipsters who told us about this, Douglas, says the Gais’ son Ron was “putting on the final touches” just last night.

P.S. Know of lights we should see? – thank you!

33 Replies to "TONIGHT'S LIGHTS: Return of the Gai Family display"

  • ITotallyAgreeWithYou December 15, 2019 (8:08 pm)

    Oh, this brings me so much joy! I was just telling a transplant that when I was growing up, The Gai family house with their iconic holiday display was one my family made a point of viewing each and every year. The holidays wouldn’t have been complete without doing so. Thank you, Gai family, for then and for now!

  • Alki resident December 15, 2019 (9:24 pm)

    What? WHAT? I could cry right now. This means so much to us. I remember them in the 80’s. Thank you so much❤️

  • dsa December 15, 2019 (9:59 pm)

    Wonderful, thank you

  • Gina December 15, 2019 (10:27 pm)

    Is this an alternative reality? I’ve missed this so much! If the giant paper stuffed snowman family on a front porch along Beach Drive returns I might be stuck in the matrix.

  • Jim December 15, 2019 (11:47 pm)

    I remember this having grown up around the corner, and I was also their paperboy for a time. Very cool.

    • Dan Byers December 16, 2019 (9:06 pm)

      Is that you Bill Canal?

  • Julia December 16, 2019 (12:36 am)

    I excitedly told my husband that the Gai’s had their lights back this year — “Which gays?’ he asked. LOL

    • cait December 16, 2019 (2:27 pm)

      LOL probably not the first time that’s happened! 

  • Irene Kinnunen December 16, 2019 (3:17 am)

    Thank you, Gai Family! For this beautiful Christmas display, that means so much to so many of us! Thank you, also, for all of those years of providing us with that great bread that I miss every single day!

  • RayWest December 16, 2019 (6:41 am)

    Fantastic! As a kid, and long before the Menashe’s annual display, this was always the highlight of my Christmas season. 

  • Ducly Bui December 16, 2019 (9:04 am)

    Although it is a cultural center, we could see the lights on past Saturday nights and coming Saturday 21-12-2019 , gate open from 5PM-9PM. Welcome all . Happy Holidays !

  • Andover December 16, 2019 (9:16 am)

    I want to give a +1 to the posts above me as I echo their sentiments. I’m out of town for a few days, but will be going by this soon after I get home as it makes me so happy the display is back. While growing up, this was the top place we’d ask our parents to drive by when we were out after dark. This makes my middle aged heart go pitty pat. Thanks for bringing it back!

  • M December 16, 2019 (9:31 am)

    That is so awesome! I grew up with the main lights to see was always the Gai’s house. Thank you for bringing it back! I didn’t even know any Gai’s still lived there. When I drove past that house a couple weeks ago, I was thinking, I wished the lights would come back on that house.

  • Ken December 16, 2019 (9:46 am)

    This is wonderful!  Have missed this display for so many years.  Thank you Ron and family.

  • Andover December 16, 2019 (10:04 am)

    I want to give a +1 to other posts above me as I echo their sentiments. I’m out of town for a few days, but will be going by this soon after I get home as it makes me so happy to be able to see this again. While growing up, this was the top place we’d ask our parents to drive by when we were out after dark. This makes my middle aged heart go pitty pat! Thanks so much for bringing the lights back!

  • Al December 16, 2019 (11:13 am)

    It looks like a big part of the west Seattle holiday is back. Wonderful

  • Corey Tando December 16, 2019 (12:18 pm)

    We lived two houses to the South of them in the 60s, and I always enjoyed the display as a kid..use to play with their sons and daughters back then, and they had a cool indoor fishpond in the basement.Took my own two sons when they were small to see the display in the late 80s.Does anyone remember Ralph Roppo their cousin that lived next door to the North?He was a good friend back then too along with Megan Shepherd, her parents owned Shepherds Drugs.

    • Andrea December 16, 2019 (4:44 pm)

      We live two houses south of them now! We are the house with Rudolph in the yard. You must have lived in this house! 

    • Nonie December 16, 2019 (6:40 pm)

      Hi Corey.  Did Ralph Roppo have a daughter named Sharon?  She was a high school friend, would love to get in touch with her!

  • James Clark December 16, 2019 (12:42 pm)

    Next the Peanuts display a few houses south of the Gai’s house needs to return.

    • Caitlin Lockhart December 16, 2019 (2:29 pm)

      I hear that there is another Peanuts display in West Seattle – I want to say it’s somewhere closer to Admiral? Anyone know which one I’m referring to? (Also I’m still friends with one of the kids who lived in that Peanuts house south of the Gai’s – I’m gonna see if the family still lives there!)

      • Andrea December 16, 2019 (4:45 pm)

        Cait, the same family still in the house you are talking about

    • Savannah Fuda December 16, 2019 (8:37 pm)

      I hold heartedly agree my husband can’t remember this display and it was my favorite. Does anyone have pictures of the peanut display? 

  • Herongrrrl December 16, 2019 (1:45 pm)

    My high school bus driver used to detour in the morning to drive us past this display. I can’t wait to show my kids now. :)

  • 98126res December 16, 2019 (3:26 pm)

    So beautiful, thank you West Seattle blog for posting about the return of the Gai’s wonderful display!  Their son has made this Christmas Season brighter for many of us in West Seattle!

  • Rachelle December 16, 2019 (4:09 pm)

    I have a lump in my throat! I’m so happy. This was our family tradition as well. So grateful I get to take my kids by it. We are going to go tonight. Thank you so much Gai family!!

  • Jennie December 16, 2019 (5:17 pm)

    This really warms my heart and takes me back a few years.  I lived in the neighborhood in the late 50’s  next door to Mrs Gai’s sister and the rest of the clan.  What truly wonderful people they were.  The lights were such a treat to my children and my grandchildren and now can’t wait to take my great grandchildren.  Thank you Gai family

  • Sherry siva December 17, 2019 (6:22 am)

    Thanks to Ron Gai and family for bringing back the Madonna. I worked for your family for 25 years and was sad when the display was gone. Phil is watching from heaven on this Christmas with a big Phil smile. Thanks again Ron and Family.

  • Colin December 17, 2019 (9:38 am)

    This is awesome. Would love to show this to my kid’s as well as the Menashe family display. But I’m curious how the block systems work in West Seattle. Where is the 3200 block? I live on 34th between Kenyon and Elmgrove, what number block is that? Does anyone have a way to figure out the blocking system in WS?

    • WSB December 17, 2019 (10:10 am)

      Google Maps will get you to the vicinity. We don’t publish exact addresses unless we are given them directly by a resident, and this was secondhand, but here’s the vicinity

  • Colin December 17, 2019 (5:18 pm)

    Thank you. I understand about not publishing addresses, this helps though

  • Leonette December 18, 2019 (9:40 am)

    The Charlie Brown house is on my street; on 47th between Walker and Hill; the whole peanuts gang.

  • ITotallyAgreeWithYou December 21, 2019 (2:27 pm)

    Colin- the block number is posted on street signs. In your case you are on the 7900 or 8000 block of 34th Ave SW (or the 3400 block of Kenyon if you were on Kenyon with 34th as the cross street). The housing numbers correlate to that. The numbers get bigger as you go north to south. The Gai family house is on the street directly west of the Fauntleroy on/off ramp.

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