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    Monday, January 30, 2023

    New London home has been a Christmas spectacle to the community for a decade

    The light display Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 at the home of Karen and David Garside on Montauk Avenue in New London. The Garsides decorated their home for the holidays and accept donations for New London Youth Affairs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Karen and David Garside outside their home Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022 on Montauk Avenue in New London. The Garsides decorated their home for the holidays and accept donations for New London Youth Affairs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    David Garside works to hang lights that came down in the wind Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 before turning on the light display at his home on Montauk Avenue in New London. Garside and his wife, Karen, decorated their home for the holidays and accept donations for New London Youth Affairs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Stephanie Ocampo of Uncasville sits in her vehicle and watches the light display Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 across the street at the home of Karen and David Garside on Montauk Avenue in New London. The Garsides decorated their home for the holidays and accept donations for New London Youth Affairs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    David Garside sets up the nativity scene after the wind knocked the pieces over Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 before turning on the light display at his home on Montauk Avenue in New London. Garside and his wife, Karen, decorated their home for the holidays and accept donations for New London Youth Affairs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    The light display Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 at the home of Karen and David Garside on Montauk Avenue in New London. The Garsides decorate their home for the holidays and accept donations for New London Youth Affairs. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    New London ― Karen Garside remembers grabbing hot cocoa with her two now grown-up children when they were young to go look at Christmas lights at other people’s homes.

    Today she and her husband, David Garside, put on a light show for other families at their home.

    For two weeks in December, their three-story beige home on 235 Montauk Ave., which was once owned by Karen’s grandparents, turns into a Christmas spectacle at night with more than 30,000 LED lights. A projector shines dancing images on the attic window, and lights all around the home appear to dance to music.

    “It’s for all the kids to enjoy,” Karen said. “We always keep it happy, light and airy.”

    New London resident Will Kuczenski with his wife and two children drove by on a rainy night this week to see the house.

    “It’s become a tradition to stop by,” he said. “I love it any time anybody gets into the spirit and shares it with others.”

    In 2012, the owners had an idea to decorate their home for Halloween and Christmas and opening it to the public. A decade later, it has become a popular site in the community.

    The couple’s Facebook page, Garside’s Holiday Lighthouse, has 1,000 likes and followers.

    Karen said it’s a lot of work and her husband, an electrician and retired building official for the state, is the engineer behind the show.

    The lights are synchronized to music and people can tune into the music from their cars using the radio. Karen said he’s designed two Christmas trees in the front to look as if they are singing along to the music.

    David said the hardest part is getting all the wires out of storage and dealing with “two miles of extension cords.” He said the front porch alone has 4,000 lights.

    With some help, decorating takes him about two weeks.

    “A lot of people enjoy it,” David said. “You get the fruit of your labors almost instantaneously.”

    Despite the expected rise in electricity bills, Karen said they are not concerned, using LED lights and running the light show only three hours every night for about two weeks.

    For years, the holiday displays have also served as fundraisers for local organizations.

    The couple runs a food drive during the Halloween season to donate to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Food Center on Broad Street. Karen said they typically end up donating at least 500 pounds of food.

    This month, the Garsides are asking the public to bring clothing donations, such as hats, gloves, socks and baby clothes, with them when they view the holiday lights. The couple plans to give the all of the items collected at their home to New London Youth Affairs.

    The Garsides said they enjoy dressing up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus every year to gather donations and take photos with children in the community. They dressed up last weekend, and Karen said 60 to 70 people came by during the event.

    “We’ve been here a long time,” said Karen, who was born and raised in New London. “We’ve always liked to give back.”

    j.vazquez@theday.com

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