Family traditions light up neighborhoods around the state

By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Sunday News
December 08. 2017 5:46PM
Another FM-synched Christmas lights display can be found on Marathon Way in Manchester. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Brendan Sevin fondly recalls how, when he was growing up in Louisiana, folks would vie to outdo one another with their outdoor Christmas decorations.

When his family moved to New Hampshire, his dad continued to put up festive light displays here. And after Sevin started raising a family of his own, he decided to revive the tradition.

For the past 10 years, the holiday display at their Londonderry home has gotten ever-grander each year.

Then, two years ago, Sevin said, "I figured out that I can actually program the lights to go to music."

Now there's no stopping him.

He figures he has about 15,000 Christmas lights on his house right now - "and I want more," he said.

Sevin programs a computer inside his home to synchronize the motion of the outside lights with Christmas carols; he uses an FM transmitter to send the music out to visitors who tune in on their car radios.

They call their annual display "Christmas in the Kings," a reference to their neighborhood, where the streets are named after kings.

What started as a simple hobby is "addictive" now, Sevin admits. He starts listening to Christmas music around February, trying out new lighting ideas and buying new props.

His wife Kelly and kids Cole, 12, and Charlotte, 9, are happy to offer their own suggestions, help with the lights and offer cookies to visitors. "It's incredible how much fun it is," Sevin said. "And we love that everyone enjoys the display."

As part of their holiday tradition, the Sevins collect donations for Make-a-Wish, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Last year, visitors to "Christmas in the Kings" donated more than $1,500.
The Sevin family on King Edward Drive in Londonderry calls its synchronized-to-FM-radio lights display "Christmas in the Kings." It's one of the many displays on the Google map curated by Kelley Muir of Manchester found at tinyurl.com/MHTlights. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Wondering how to find the best spots to take the kids to see Christmas lights?

One Manchester mother has started her own tradition of mapping some of the best lighting displays in the greater Manchester area.

Kelley Muir said she created her Google map after talking with other parents about how to find the best displays. It's a public site where folks can post their own suggestions.

Muir doesn't verify the locations herself, but users are quick to point it out if a place that used to have a display no longer does, she said.

Driving around to find the best Christmas lights is an obsession for her family, Muir said. "In some ways, it's a replacement for snow when there's no snow," she said. "It creates this magical moment for the kids."

Muir laughed as she admitted she doesn't usually put up lights at her own house. "So I'm not even on the map," she said.

But that may change. This year, she said, "All of our neighbors have started putting lights out, so we're talking about putting up some lights this weekend."

Christmas in the Kings in Londonderry is among the sites listed on Muir's Google map of holiday lighting displays. The map can be found at https://tinyurl.com/MHTlights.

swickham@unionleader.com


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