This time of year, more than our children look forward to the Christmas season and one thing that’s guaranteed to bring out the spirit of the celebration for those who are young and for those who are young-at-heart are festive home light displays. Many of us can remember when our parents loaded us up in the family chariot for a tour of our snowy local streets to admire the imagination of homeowners who loved to don an elf-hat and attitude when it came to lighting up their little corner of the world. No family knows how much that means more than the Seccaspinas.
Angelo Seccaspina mastered the art of creation with coloured lights and how important it was to give Christmas a little extra boost to bring some enjoyment to others. His home on Lake Ave East in Carleton Place was transformed into a winter wonderland of light and as soon as they were able, his children joined in to plan, plot and string thousands of lights on their Victorian style home and surrounding gardens. His son Perry remembers walking with his dad to the local Canadian Tire store just down the street each October to literally buy them out of their incandescent bulbs, because as any Christmas elf can tell you, when you’re planning to string hundreds of sets of lights, you can’t have too many replacement bulbs.
Those shopping trips and the subsequent labour of love to install the lights, made a major impact on Perry and when his dad passed in 2014, Perry already had one season of lights behind him for his own family and neighbours in Beckwith. This year will be no exception and Perry has been at it solid for the last 2 weeks. He does it on his own with some creative input and supervision from his daughter Sophia, but it won’t be long before she starts handling ladders and cords and sockets.
This year as in the past their homestead at 267 Stonewood Drive (off of Beckwith’s 9th Line) will be adorned with over 40,000 coloured LED lights, all sparkling and flashing in sequence to music. That total is just up a smidgen from the 33K used last year. The display even has a name; Sophia’s Animated Christmas Light Show. It runs every evening from early December through to the second week in January from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm and the music is available by tuning in to 88.3 Griswold FM. This way the tunes can be enjoyed by all without blasting the entire neighbourhood.
Perry notes that he’s learned a thing or two about securing the lights to the point that little if anything is damaged or put out of commission by inclement weather. The majority of his neighbours are very understanding about the traffic tie-ups that sometimes see vehicles lined up back onto Country Lane Drive. Area retirement homes have even sent busloads of seniors out for their own trips down Christmas memory lane. While they haven’t tried to estimate the number of visitors each year, Perry mentioned that they were working on a method to capture this number. The weekends can get extremely busy.
Perry gives full credit to his dad Angelo and his grandfather Eliseo for starting this family tradition, and in a world that seems to toss out valued customs like so much torn gift wrap, it really does warm the heart to see the best things continue. As Perry’s mom Linda noted in her legendary blog, “it just isn’t another Christmas light show – it is a son’s love for his father reflected in each Christmas light.”When heading south on Hwy 15, turn right on the 9th Line of Beckwith and then left onto Country Lane Drive and then onto Stonewood Drive. Perry asks visitors to drive carefully when making their own treasured Christmas tradition by sharing a view of the lights.