Two Hauppauge neighbors have worked together to light up their community with the holiday spirit, so brighty that its stopping traffic.
Joe Calvacca and Henry Difranco, residents of Atlantic Place, held a Christmas tree lighting ceremony to show off their 35-foot tall Christmas tree decked with thousands of lights to friends, family and neighbors and jump start the holiday season.
"Christmas is all about giving," Difranco said. "It's my favorite holiday, without a doubt."
As a father of two boys, ages 5 and 7, Difranco said he and his neighbor, Calvacca, have always decorated the tree on their property line for Christmas. In 2010, they decided to take it to the next level.
The Christmas tree has more than 7,000 white LED lights wound around it, being 60-feet wide at its widest point, according to Difranco. He measured it several times during its month-long decoration.
"It's so big that every time I put lights on I felt like I had to go buy more lights because it wasn’t enough. Finally I though, it will definitely suffice," Difranco said.
That wasn't without adding an additional 420 lights on Black Friday as a finishing touch.
But of course, no Christmas tree is complete without a topper - in this case a star. Difranco built a three-foot star packed with 575 lights.
"We had to rent a cherry picker to put the star on top. The light is probably a good 40 pounds," he said. "I also had to construct something to adhere it to the tree, because I didn’t want to harm the tree."
The tree made an impression on the more than 200 guests who joined Calvacca and Difranco for the tree lighting, including photographer Patrick Lopez who submitted the photos above to Hauppauge Patch. Neighbors were offered hot chocolate, coffee, tea and a pastries. Santa Claus took time to make a quick appearance, giving out 170 toys and candy canes to local children.
Since then, Calvacca and Difranco said the tree has drawn plenty of onlookers who drive by slowly or stop and get out to marvel at the tree. However, a multi-colored musical display had to go because it was disturbing too many neighbors.
As for the cost, Difranco said, were split evenly between the two neighbors but the letters of thanks he has already received from community members for the tree is more than enough.