Ellis Tech student gaining reputation as 'Mr. Christmas, Jr.'
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Dayville - posted Tue., Dec. 20, 2011
It's hard to miss the Christmas display at the Amarante home in Dayville, situated on the corner of Route 101 and Pratt Street. The 40,000 lights strung in honor of the holiday simply scream for attention. A mega-tree with 7,000 lights shines like a huge teepee in the yard. A red and white blanket of lights stretching almost 8 by 12 feet hangs near the driveway. The trunks of several trees are wrapped in red and white lights to resemble candy canes. Eight inflatable decorations are spread throughout the yard, along with strings of lights. Christmas music blares from speakers in the shed.
The light show has drawn the attention of many passersby. People stop by the side of the road to look at it. Drivers beep as they pass. One man and his daughter even dropped off $5 to help pay for the electrical bills.
Daniel Amarante, a junior in the Electrical Technology Program at H.H. Ellis Technical High School, is responsible for it all. He was inspired by the huge Christmas display put on for more than 30 years by Mervin Whipple of Ballouville.
Whipple's display included animated figures in glass-fronted cases. A life-size nativity scene and 350 animated displays decorated the grounds of his business, Everlasting Memorials. By the time he sold the display in 2004, there were more than 100,000 lights. The long-running show earned Whipple the nickname, “Mr. Christmas.” And it left a lasting impression on Amarante.
Four years ago, Amarante put up his first string of lights. Every year since then, his Christmas display has grown. And while 40,000 lights is a far cry from 100,000, Amarante already has plans to add an additional 20,000 lights to his display for next year. He wants to upgrade the electrical service to his parents’ home to 200 amps and put 20 new circuits on a subpanel – all to accommodate next year's display. Thirty-two more trees will be wrapped in lights to look like candy canes, he said. And he plans to have the lights synchronized to the sounds of Christmas music playing over the speakers.
Amarante's father, Joseph, Jr., said that connections are being made between Whipple and his 16-year-old son. “Some people are calling him a junior ‘Mr. Christmas,’” he said.
The younger Amarante would like nothing better than to carry on Whipple's tradition. “And to glorify God,” he added. “He's the reason for the season.”
Amarante also plans to expand a Christmas stocking drive that he started this year at Ellis Tech. The different shops competed to bring in the most stockings for the drive. The masonry shop won the challenge by bringing in 44 filled stockings. In all, 127 stockings were collected to give away to needy families this year.
Next year, Amarante plans to do more. He would like to thin the trees in his parents' yard to make his display more visible. He would like to be able to offer tours and increase the Christmas stocking outreach. He even imagines radio stations getting involved.
But for now, Amarante’s plans are more immediate. He has already calculated that he'll need 84 boxes of red, 25 boxes of white and 67 boxes of green lights to build on his display for next year. “A few days after Christmas, when things are 75 percent off, I'll go crazy,” he said.