WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – It’s not how many Christmas lights you have, but what you do with them, says White Plains resident Chuck Barringer, whose car-stopping display is set to music and synchronized with three houses on his block.
Like many in Westchester and Putnam counties who have turned Christmas light displays into an art form, Barringer likes to add new attractions each year to top himself. New this year is a frosty flanked by work boots, a train track and a small village in a box display he “affectionately” named Little N. Kensico Ave. His display runs every day from 5:30 p.m. to 11:06 p.m. between Nov. 30 and Jan. 2.
Barringer isn’t as keen on competing with other displays.
“Neighborly competition is fun. But, for some people it’s about setting the record for most lights. And at that point it starts to look kind of gaudy and tacky,” he said, referring to neighborhoods like Dycker Heights in Brooklyn, famous for its “Christmas Lights and Cannoli Tour.”
Since he began his light display in 2009 – this is the second year his display is synchronized with three other houses – Barringer said he has noticed more neighbors hanging lights.
Somers High School sophomore Christopher Ruggiero hopes to have the same effect on his dimly-lit neighborhood on Sunderland Lane in Katonah. He decorates every year and his family is one of 19 participating in a home decorating competition called Illuminate Somers .
“My mom told me about it and I figured I should try it because I don’t think there are that many house in Somers that decorate a lot,” he said.
Ruggiero spent the last month hanging 25,000 lights and building various displays.
“No 15 year old does light like he does,” said Christopher’s mother, Dana.
Somers resident Randy Pennella is also participating and hopes to get some good ideas from his competition. His family calls him Clark W. Griswald, the Christmas-happy character played by Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
The idea for Illuminate Somers came from Somers Lions Club President Herb Reimann, who said his hometown, Port Chester, had similar competitions when he was growing up.
“A lot of people work very hard in decorating their houses and no one sees them if you’re on a dead end street,” he said. “This is a way to get people to appreciate other people’s work as well.”
A full list of houses participating is available here.
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