, Derry, New Hampshire

December 20, 2012

Derry neighborhood lights up for the holidays

Holiday display makes spirits bright

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — The holidays mean family, friends, giving and, and for one Derry couple, the best display of lights possible.

Jean and Susan Martel have given their neighbors on Whittemore Drive one extensive light show just in time for the holidays.

The house is a daily focal point for people wanting to drive by and enjoy thousands of twinkling lights along with a synchronized musical score available on FM radio station 90.3.

Cars make the journey up and down the road on a daily basis once darkness falls.

Then the lights start to flash, the “Merry Christmas” sign in the front yard shines and the holiday mood begins.

This is something the Martels know well.

For many years, the family has become a focal point of the street, inviting passers-by to cruise through the neighborhood and enjoy the show.

Susan Martel said her husband is always in the holiday spirit. Having good neighbors is a bonus, she said.

“We live in a duplex and they gave the OK,” she said. “We’ve now done it for years.”

In those years, the collection of lights, figures, inflatable characters and garland has grown.

“We started with a little crate 19 years ago,” Martel said. “Now, we have an attic full.”

She said her husband begins his planning right after the holidays, checking out stores for bargains and after-Christmas sales on decor and lights.

“He hits the sales, gets ideas,” she said.

Then the planning begins.

Right after Halloween, the lights come out of the boxes and the holiday presentation is put into place.

Once the plan is finished and all decor is situated in the right spot, the Martels light up their Whittemore Drive home just in time for Thanksgiving night.

Martel said the neighbors love the display, especially the children.

As cars drive past they can also tune in to hear the music that accompanies the show. It’s all done through computer access, Martel said.

The electric bills aren’t bad, she said. Martel said the family spends more in the summer on air conditioning than they do during the most festive times of the year.

The light show has become a holiday tradition not only for the family, but also for the friends and neighbors who stop by to enjoy the lights and even get complimentary cup of hot cocoa from the host family.

“And the inside is decorated as much as the outside,” Martel said. “It’s definitely been our thing.”