Posted at: 07/23/2013 10:23 PM
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- He was a man who kept the Christmas spirit alive all year round, and this week the Austin community is remembering Bernard “Bernie” Carey, who passed away on Sunday from Parkinson's disease.
In 1988, Carey donned his now infamous “Frosty the Snowman” costume for the first time.
“It just all started with trying to make the kids happy,” his wife Gayle said. “That was his main purpose in life."
For years, “Frosty” and the family’s Christmas display were a staple of the holiday season in Austin.
“He just had so much fun and he just loved it so much that it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Gayle Carey said.
Eventually the display got so big it attracted hundreds of visitors who would drive for miles to see the twinkling lights and hand-built houses.
“I had a neighbor come over today and we were talking about it and he said, 'Boy, we used to go to bed at night and we'd think our house was being gassed or something with all the exhaust,’" Gayle said laughing.
But “Frosty” traveled too, visiting nursing homes, schools, and festivals, bringing joy and a little dancing to kids across the area.
“They loved dancing with Frosty and he loved to dance so that's what they did,” Gayle said. “A lot of dancing out here."
And while his family said Bernie especially liked the Christmas season because Christmas Day is also his birthday, it's clear the celebration was never about himself.
“A lot of people at Christmas time are real depressed,” Bernie Carey said in a 1988 interview. “This is something that really cheers me up and it cheers the kids up, and if I can make a little kid smile, I've done the job."
Bernie Carey’s wake is scheduled for Thursday from 4-7 p.m. at Mayer Funeral Home and his funeral is Friday morning at St. Augustine Church.