Glorious Excess

Brian Mitchell starts dragging the strings of Christmas lights out of storage — the attic, the basement, multiple closets and an 8’ x 10’ shed — sometime in October. Then come the waving Santas, the plastic light-up figures, the blow molds, the animated dolls, the working carousel, the wire frame train, the “Merry Christmas” sign and, of course, the reindeer. Setting up his annual (15 years and counting) display takes a lot of time and work, and he wants to be sure he’s ready for opening day the weekend after Thanksgiving. That’s when the cars full of people stop and look on in wonder. “My neighbors are really good about it,” Mitchell says. “I’ve had no complaints.” Visitors can wander Mitchell’s 1/2-acre property at 16 Francis St. in Claremont, where something is going on in just about every square foot. Mitchell’s 40,000-bulb computerized displays are so good he’s won awards for them and he’s now on the national list of Tacky Light Tours ( Does he think his display is tacky? “No,” he says, “that’s just tongue in cheek. I haven’t gone overboard enough to be tacky, except for the pink flamingoes.” Mitchell explains his love of lots of illumination as “Christmas crazy,” a welcome affliction he’s had since he was a kid. “The holidays have always been huge for me.” His daughter, now 15, dresses up as an elf; his wife dresses up, too, though she hasn’t found quite the right Mrs. Claus costume yet. Mitchell, of course, dresses as Santa. Weekends only, though. What’s his electric bill look like? Not too bad, actually. With the computerized operation, the lights aren’t on all at once. Mitchell does, however, say he’s working on switching to less energy-intensive LED lights. There is no price of admission, just a gentle request for donations to the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD). Mitchell’s in it for the fun and the desire for others to have fun. “I want to see the kids, especially, have a great time,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. Guide to Local Beer in NH's Monadnock, Lakes and North Country Regions
    If you’re a craft beer lover in New Hampshire, then chances are you know all about what’s...
  2. 2016's Best New Restaurants
    New Hampshire is bustling with new restaurants this year. Here's a guide to some notable openings...
  3. Beating the breast cancer odds
    Surviving, heading-off cancer a family affair
  4. Is it Pneumonia?
    How to know when it's more than just a bad cold - and what you should do about it.
  5. Pamela Smart: Innocent or (Still) Guilty?
    After a quarter of a century in prison and the release of all others involved in the murder of...
  6. Redefining Farm-to-Table in Bath
    The Farm at Woods Hill in Bath and Woods Hill Table in Concord, Mass., are a dining enterprise...
  7. Prison Notes from Pam
    Photographer David Mendelsohn carried out correspondence with Pamela Smart in conjunction with...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags