Wilmington Christmas light house, a holiday tradition in Delaware [video]

For nearly 30 years the Smith family has been lighting up Wilmington with their extravagant Christmas display.

The house is located just off Silverside Road in Wilmington but the glow of the lights can be seen from both directions on I-95 near the city.

Family members and friends take turns helping to set up the display which takes months of preparation. Family member Ralph Thompson is the mastermind behind the lights.

“We start in September, work on the building and the houses first and do the yard in November,” he explained.

The tradition started in 1986, when the children of Mildred Smith decided to surprise their Mother for Christmas.

“They wanted to start with a three piece manager and some lights around the rain gutter and just some simple decorations and it’s just kept going,” he said. “After she passed, her husband Mr. Jack Smith, kept it going and now the sons and family is keeping it going.”

From Thanksgiving until the first week of January visitors are welcome to stroll through the property in the evenings, taking in the more than 300,000 lights and hundreds of figures on display.

“Most are amazed, they’re wondered, ask how you get it up, when you start, how you take care of it,” Thompson said.

The display changes from year to year and Thompson said they’ve used more than half a million lights in the past. He said they rotate some of the lights and figures to keep them from wearing out and they’re always adding new characters.

The cost to run the lights isn’t cheap but Thompson said the family business, Jack Smith’s Towing, and donations from visitors help cover the bill.

“It’s probably what some people pay per year for the six or eight weeks,” he said.

Santa also makes an appearance at the house every evening from 6-9 p.m. until Dec. 23.

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