Claremont man's Christmas display is a growing, 20-year labor of love

Sunday News Correspondent
December 02. 2017 11:30PM

Mitchell's Magic Christmas in Claremont has as many Santas as the eye can see. (Meghan Pierce/Sunday News Correspondent)

CLAREMONT - For more than 20 years, Brian Mitchell has added to the growing Christmas light display at his home.

His wife, Joyce, has been along for the ride but the display, which attracts thousands to their home on Francis Street every Christmas season, grew from Mitchell's Claremont childhood, he said.

His mother's name was Natalia, which means child of Christmas, and she lived up to that name, Mitchell said.

"Christmas was just so huge at my mother's house. It was very Christmassy in my mother's house," he said. "(The decorations) would go up early and stay up late. The Christmas tree might not have come down 'til the end of January, when there were about four needles left on it."

As a child, Mitchell did his part, creating paper chains he would use to decorate every room in the house, he said.

Today, he spends six weeks leading up to Thanksgiving getting his display up and spent about 60 hours this year creating two new, synchronized songs for the light show.

"If you have a three minute song it's about 30 hours of work, about 30 hours to program it," he said.

"That takes him all year 'round," Joyce Mitchell said. "That's note, by note, by note."

Now dubbed Mitchell's Magic Christmas, the ornaments are a combination of high tech and traditional holiday displays, with 50,000 lights. Mitchell said he has maxed out at 50,000 lights, saying that seems to be the sweet spot.

Whenever the couple goes to a yard sale, they look to pick up a Santa or a snowman for their collection.

Mitchell said they have more than 100 plastic figures and blowup holiday displays.

Mitchell has built the many wooden figures and creations over the years, including a naughty-and-nice machine to which he added sound.

The front yard display is a computer-controlled light show synchronized to music, which starts every quarter hour.

The side and backyards are a journey through the North Pole and a nod to Mitchell's favorite TV holiday shows.

The synchronized light show was started in 2005. Because so many people offered Mitchell money after enjoying the show, he started taking donations for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth and later, David's House.

"Once we started with the animation people started to offer me money to help pay for the display," he said. "But I don't need anybody to pay me for my hobby."

Joyce says Mitchell does most of the work, but she supports his hobby.

"This is what he loves to do," she said.

They usually raise between $1,000 and $2,000 for David's House each year, they said.

David's House is a home away from home for families and patients at CHaD in Lebanon.

Open every night after Thanksgiving, visitors are invited to walk through the yard or park in front to watch the light show.

The display is on from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. nightly through Christmas.

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