Merry and Bright: The Best Holiday Light Displays in Rhode Island

These elaborate holiday displays by everyday Rhode Islanders spark joy across the state.
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Photography by Wolf Matthewson.

Stawicki Family Display
111 Allerton Rd., East Providence

Tune in to 94.7 FM radio to listen to the Christmas music that jives with thousands of dancing lights at the Stawicki family display, which they have set up since 2005. The home features handmade and retro blow-mold decorations, including giant letters spelling out “Noel” on the roof of the home. “It’s something we really enjoy doing together as a family. Each year we try to think of something new to add to our display,” say the Stawickis. The display runs daily from late November from 5 to 11 p.m. facebook.com/stawickifamilychristmas


 

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Photography by Wolf Matthewson.

Norman Blank’s Holiday Village
34 Hope St., Warren

It’s a family affair at Norman Blank’s holiday village display with more than 20,000 lights that stretch across two yards along the East Bay Bike Path in Warren. Blank and his family have created stand-up painted wooden figures from vintage holiday films, such as Rudolph, Santa, the Abominable Snowman and Jack Frost, alongside Charlie Brown and Disney characters that stake out the yards. “My son [Eddie Beaulieu] will draw them out and my son-in-law will cut them out,” Blank says. “My daughter [Melissa Cabral] will paint them, and my son will come back and mark the detail lines, and my other daughter [Lynn Medeiros] helps set it up.” A blow mold of Santa’s sleigh and his eight reindeer fly between houses, and there’s even a countdown to the days, hours and minutes until Christmas. It’s a lot of work to assemble the village, but it’s worth it for Blank, who is also Warren’s fire chief.
“If you ever come here with little kids and you look at them and try to see it through their eyes, you’ll understand,” he says. The setup will be ready Thanksgiving weekend.
Park on Main Street or Wood Street in Warren and walk down the bike bath.


 

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Photography by Wolf Matthewson.

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Photography by Wolf Matthewson.

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Photography by Wolf Matthewson.

Santa’s Magical Drive-Thru Christmas Display and Music Light Show
106 Ten Rod Rd., Exeter

Spectators don’t have to leave their cars to take in the magic of Santa’s Magical Drive-Thru Christmas Display and Music Light Show, organized by Anthony Gemma. The Gemma family has installed more than 200 inflatable decorations around their yard as well as lights that dance along to the music playing on radio station 106.1 FM. While viewing the display is free, voluntary donations to the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation are accepted and encouraged. The foundation honors Anthony Gemma’s mother, Gloria Gemma, who died from breast cancer and loved Christmas. People are invited to drive down the driveway loop to fully experience it. “View the display driving in and driving out, and there is
a magical Christmas light show happening all around you,” Anthony Gemma says. The display will run Thanksgiving evening until January 2.


 

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Photography by Wolf Matthewson.

Picozzi Family Christmas Display
75 Gristmill Rd., Warwick

The Picozzi family has decked out their Warwick home with dancing lights for thirty-seven years, always in time to flip the switch on Thanksgiving night. The whole family is put to work, led by now-Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi, and his wife, Kim, who enlist their daughter, Jackie Picozzi, and Jackie’s son, Tyler Picozzi-Yates. Sometimes their other daughter, Stephane Kirchner, gets in on the fun with her three young kids, too. Frank Picozzi upgraded the display to a digital design fourteen years ago. The system is programmed with thousands of lighted pixels customized on handmade structures on their roof and yard. The lights are timed to synchronize with music on a radio station. This year, he’s added several new props and is busy maintaining and replacing pixels. Children can leave letters for Santa in a special mailbox and expect a response, and they also have a voluntary donation box for visitors to give to the Tomorrow Fund to help children with cancer and their families. Thousands come to see the digital lights display, powered up on weeknights until 9 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday nights until 10 p.m. “I had no idea it would grow into this,” Frank Picozzi says. “Someday, kids who come to see my display will bring their own kids to see it.” facebook.com/picozzifamilychristmasdisplay


 

The Tierney Family, 6 Waverly Rd., Riverside

6 Waverly Rd., Riverside. Photo by Wold Matthewson.

 

The Tierney Family’s Holiday Display

6 Waverly Rd., Riverside

Jerry Tierney has been decorating with lights for nearly fourteen years, starting out with a Mr. Christmas light controller. Three years ago, he discovered pixels. He programs bulbs to keep up with the beat of more than forty holiday songs that can be tuned into from car radios as part of the show. “We have around 15,000 lights in our display. I can’t even tell you how much time I’ve put in to get it running and to build it up every year,” Tierney says. “I have been working on this year’s display all year.” The family loved the reaction from the extra effort they put into it when COVID-19 put a damper on the holiday spirit. “Last year was very rewarding and gave us the incentive to expand and continue,” Jerry Tierney says. “With everything shut down and having limited things to do due to COVID-19, many people were thankful to have a safe place to come for some entertainment.” The display runs from Thanksgiving evening until January 1 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. facebook.com/Tierney-Family-Christmas-Display