Annual display lights up the season

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Tue., Nov. 26, 2013
Tom Delnicki (right) and Brandon Anderson fought some cold, brisk winds on Sunday, Nov. 24, trying to set up and stake down a 12' inflatable Santa Claus. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Tom Delnicki (right) and Brandon Anderson fought some cold, brisk winds on Sunday, Nov. 24, trying to set up and stake down a 12' inflatable Santa Claus. Photos by Annie Gentile.

Clark Griswold - the lovable patriarch of the popular movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” - has nothing on Tom Delnicki. Those who’ve seen the movie may recall the great pains to which Griswold went when lighting up the entire roof of his house for the Christmas season, but Delnicki has long been taking the lighting thing much, much further, making his Felt Road home and entire yard into a winter wonderland of lights, color and action.

“I’ve been doing things up in a serious manner, probably for about 10 years now,” said Delnicki. “It takes me about four weeks to get the whole thing done.”

The former mayor, recently re-elected to the Town Council, said it’s hard to put his finger on exactly why he does it, but he has always had fond memories as a child driving around with his family through various neighborhoods to look at all the lighted homes. “It’s a cheap night out and a lot of fun. I hope that kind of thing makes a comeback for families,” he said.

Delnicki said he really got serious about decorating when he helped his friend, Frank Maratta, some years ago set up the Goodwin Park Holiday Light Fantasia, and he had so much fun doing it, he started to think he could do the same thing at his home.

Delnicki is fortunate to have a great helper in 16-year-old Brandon Anderson, who’s been lending a hand in setting up the displays since he was seven years old.

“The first year I just wanted to help with changing some of the light bulbs, but over the years, I’ve been doing more and more,” said Anderson. That includes helping with the layouts, running electrical cords, and - on a particularly windy Sunday before Thanksgiving - struggling to hold a 12-foot inflatable Santa Claus in place while Delnicki staked it down.

Over the years, Delnicki has become a familiar face at area stores the day after Christmas looking for bargains. “I’m a big advocate of the 50- to 75-percent off sales,” he joked, but other times he said he just has to pick something up during the height of the season, especially if it’s a unique type of display that he knows won’t be around afterwards.

“I’d say one of my favorites is the penguins by the fire,” said Delnicki. They’ve become an iconic display. I also really like the North Pole Village by the brook and the duck pond. The penguins have begun to invade the duck pond,” he said.

Delnicki keeps the display up until shortly after New Year’s Day and holds a food drive with the local Brownie troop at his home the Saturday before Christmas. He has a separate electrical service in his barn that strictly serves the outdoor display, and while his electrical bill may be a tad higher than normal in December, he said the lights and all the work that go into setting them up is well worth it, if it brings a little cheer to the community.


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