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Niantic family lights up home with holiday decorations to inspire smiles

East Lyme — It may be Easter but lighted Santa statues and bright orange glowing pumpkins are lining one Niantic family’s front lawn in an effort to bring joy and smiles to those who drive by as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

With ginger bread men placed next to pumpkin lanterns and reindeer next to ghosts, resident Lynn Sullivan said she hopes the message is clear to drivers passing by that “we just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces and bring a little light to the darkness.”

Located at 85 East Pattagansett Road, the Sullivan house, which sits right at the road’s busy three-way intersection — which cars often zoom through — is well known in Niantic for its holiday displays showcasing Sullivan’s blow mold decoration collection.

Sullivan, who is a third-grade teacher at Niantic Center School and lives with her husband, Jeff, and two sons, Pete and Cliff, estimated by phone Tuesday that about 40 molds are on display alongside other holiday decorations, such as a white Christmas Tree in the family’s front window.

Inspired by news stories showing other homes nationwide decorating their lawns with Christmas decorations, Sullivan said she and her family put up the mixed-holiday display the weekend of March 21, a week after school was let out indefinitely.

“I thought it would be funny to put both the Halloween and Christmas molds out together and make people smile. But I also didn’t want to just stick them all out there and make people think we were completely crazy,” she said, laughing. “So we also put out signs to indicate that we were just trying to make people smile.”

One sign, with a ghost painted on it, reads: “No tricks, just treats, we are hoping to lift your spirits.” The other, painted red in the theme of Christmas, reads: “Oh, the virus out there is frightful, but our lights are so delightful. And since we’ve got no place to go, let them glow, let them glow, let them glow.”

“A ton of people are beeping and waving and taking pictures,” Sullivan said. “A woman stopped by and said she loved our decorations and even started crying in our driveway,” while other passersby will simply yell out from their car windows saying, “We love it, your decorations are awesome,” or “Thank you,” Sullivan said.

With her hand-painted signs placed near the intersection’s stop signs, Sullivan also joked that “for years now, we’ve watched people blow through the stop signs. So, I said to my husband, 'Who knew all these years it would take a pandemic and a sign to make people actually stop?'”

Sullivan said she hopes to keep the decorations up through the end of April and maybe longer, but wasn’t entirely sure about the display’s timeline Tuesday.

“The community seems very happy with it,” she said, which means even more to her, considering the display was partly put up in memory of her late beloved nephew, Joshua, who died in his early 30s last November.

“His favorite holiday was Halloween and we would celebrate it every year,” Sullivan said. “His loss has been hard, but we feel like this would have made him smile, so we are smiling, too.”

Editor's Note: This version corrects the spelling of Cliff Sullivan's name.


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