Christmas with a cause on Route 101

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Fri., Dec. 27, 2013
Santa takes a bath under the lights at Amerante's Winter Wonderland. Photos by D. Coffey.
Santa takes a bath under the lights at Amerante's Winter Wonderland. Photos by D. Coffey.

Daniel Amerante’s Winter Wonderland illuminates the night sky where Pratt Road intersects with Route 101 in Killingly. The Christmas display with its 100,000 lights blazes across a normally pitch black stretch of land. The sheer scale of the display draws in visitors nightly.

On little more than an acre of land, Amerante has fashioned a celebration of all things Christmas. Angels trumpet a welcome to visitors as they pass under a canopy of lights. More than 50 tree trunks are wrapped in white and red lights. A pathway is marked in blue lights with a cautionary note: keep to the path to avoid electrical cords.

There are giraffes, penguins and polar bears. Snoopy and the Grinch make merry on the grounds. There are 24 inflatable decorations. A polar bear with three penguins sliding down its back greets visitors at a turn in the path. Santa Claus makes his appearance. Christmas music plays on speakers hooked up to an outdoor shed that is decorated in colorful snowflakes.

It is an extravagant gesture, and it continues to attract crowds of children and adults.

Nathan Bennett Burt couldn’t wait to get out of the car when his parents stopped on Dec. 26. “It’s so impressive,” the little boy said. “It’s so big, and everything moves.”

Dean and Katie Roumbakis came from Dayville that same evening. Dean had seen the display from Route 101 and wanted to show his wife. “The lights just make you smile,” he said.

“It’s beautiful in the dark,” Katie added.

Cars stopped. Children couldn’t contain their excitement. Adults were grateful, too. One woman stuffed some bills into a donation box.

As of Dec. 24, $25 had been donated to Friends of Assisi, $82 to Make-A-Wish Ct, $31 to Deary Memorial Fund, and $154 to the Lighting Fund.

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