NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – A modest, single-family home on Sutton Street in Whitinsville has become a December destination in this small New England town.
Thousands of multi-colored lights twinkle and dazzle while animated Santas, snowmen, reindeer, elves, trees and shining stars sing and dance in celebration of the season. It is all computer-synchronized, with the music on its own radio station – 92.7 on the FM dial.
The Christmas lights display, in the words of its creator, Rich Arsenault, is a hobby for him and his wife, Leslie, that “started small and got a little bit out of control.’’
It began years ago when they decorated the small yard at their first home in Shrewsbury. In the search for a new home in 2003, the yard at 793 Sutton St. sealed the deal. It is large and a corner lot at the top of Hill Street, where five roads converge.
The couple is not alone in their obsession. There is a large community of Christmas decoration fanatics in the country – large enough to accommodate yearly conventions that the Arsenaults attend.
Many of them do as the Arsenaults do, and that is decorate their homes and yards to extreme and accept donations for a charity from those who stop to enjoy the display. The Arsenaults give what they collect to Dana Farber Cancer Research to honor a niece who was successfully treated there.
The lights are on from 5:30 to 9 p.m., Arsenault said, and, by 5:45 Wednesday, a line of cars in front of his home was 10 deep.
People are respectful, he said. They watch for a short time, sometimes make a donation, and move on so those in back can move up and enjoy the show. It does get crowded on weekends, he said, but he hasn’t received complaints from neighbors or the police department.
Most of the displays were made by the couple. She draws the figures, he cuts them out, she paints the. He handles the computer synchronization and they hold a put-up-the-lights party, at which a group of friends set up the display.
He also welds, and has a knack for taking something and turning it into something else. A bunch of lighted candy canes he bought on sale last year is a spinning pinwheel in the display this year.
“There is no rhyme or reason’’ to the display, Arsenault said.
The lights were turned on the day after Thanksgving and they’ll be turned off Dec. 26.
Arsenault said they host the display on a schedule – two years on and one year off. Last year was an off-year, and many stopped by to say they missed it, he said.
What’s his light bill for December?
“I don’t want to talk about that,’’ he said with a smile.