Resident’s Favorite Light Displays: Lincoln Lights

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Nov 292015

incoln lights

Lisa wrote: The Small Family’s Lincoln Lights are superb!

Lincoln Lights became famous after it was featured on ABC’s Great Light Fight a couple of years ago.

Chris and Maria Small’s massive display is synchronized to about 40 minutes of holiday music.

This is located on Lincoln Road off of Orange Center Road (closest to RT 1).

Lincoln Lights Will Premiere On Thanksgiving Night

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Nov 272014

A preview of the 2014 Lincoln Lights

A preview of the 2014 Lincoln Lights

Chris Small has been working on his Christmas light display for a couple of months.

This year, with a little different set up than what we saw on the Great Christmas Light Fight on national television last December, Chris has about 70,000 lights all synchronized to blink and flash to music along with delightful penguins on a sled, bears on a train, flying Santas, spiral Christmas Trees and so much more all neatly organized on his spacious front lawn at 360 Lincoln Road.

Instead of lighting the front porch, Small designed a giant tree shape with color changing lights to fill that space.

After working on the lights all day on Saturday, Chris lit them up at night and enjoyed the view with his neighbors.

The display officially premiers on Thanksgiving night, and even though they are not on national TV this year, Chris is going to request that Lincoln Road be designated as a one-way street for the season as a courtesy to his neighbors.

“The neighbors like it, and it helps prevent traffic jams so everyone can get to their homes,” he said.

Check out the Lincoln Lights FACEBOOK page for photos and updates.

Originally Published on: Nov 23, 2014 @ 21:51


Yes, Chris and Maria Small ARE That Nice

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Dec 222013

Lincoln Lights, Orange CT

Lincoln Lights, Orange CT

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been able to drive up to the Small Family’s home on Lincoln Road, stop, enjoy the light show and leave at my leisure, but tonight I brought my granddaughter and had to wait in line for more than 1/2 hour!!

Maria approached my car carrying a basket and first thing that came to my mind is that she was collecting donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society – but I (and my granddaughter) was pleasantly surprised to hear her offer me some candy!

These local celebrities from the Great Christmas Light Fight show who seemed SO Nice actually ARE that nice!

Further up the road, near the house, I caught up with Chris Small who had been greeting “light see-ers” all night long was looking forward to the mild temperatures tonight and said they would be outside again to say hello to everyone who came by.

He said his neighbors have all been amazing since his Christmas light display went up and he hopes that visitors will continue to respect them.

A view from the back of the line after we got onto Lincoln Road.

A view from the back of the line after we got onto Lincoln Road.

Lincoln Road is one-way from Wilson and all drivers should stay to the right especially when coming around the curve in the road (one resident could not get into their driveway on Friday because of traffic on the left side of the street). Chris said everyone has been generous with the donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – which is where 100% of the donations are going this year. (In 2012 the donations were split up between two charities).

During the day he will be out looking for a “sweet” deal on candy canes to pass out to visitors – but if anyone with the means or connections would care to donate a ton of candy canes to the family to distribute, it would be greatly appreciated.  (Update: Thank you to The Orange Volunteer Fire Department Elves for their donation).

The Small’s episode of the Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC will be rebroadcast today at  4 p.m., according to Chris.

What Did Chris Small Have To Say About The Great Christmas Light Fight?

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Dec 162013

IMG_9422The Lincoln Road episode of the Great Christmas Light Fight has come and gone.

If you missed it, do you want to know how Chris and Maria Small fared?

After the broadcast, we got this …

“We did not win,” Small said. “It’s a little baffling because whenever they aired the commercials about tonight’s show, we were the main characters that you saw. It’s weird, maybe the footage that they had of us was the best … I don’t know.”

“In the end it’s based on the lights, not the family,” he said. “It stinks, but at least we got to be on national TV, and I was set up before the weather got too cold.”

Chris said the show, which was aired on ABC and shown in high definition was for his kids so when they are older, they can watch the video and look back at the time when they were famous.

Chris is hoping to get his hands on a directors cut of their experience because when all is said and done their portion of the one-hour show only airs for about 12.5 minutes.

Tonight’s The Night: Orange’s Lincoln Lights On National TV (I kept my promise, Chris)

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Dec 162013

1501711_563651363711119_1244811448_nAbout two months ago, at the end of October the town of Orange was in the midst of deciding on which candidates would be most worthy of their vote in the municipal election, Elf Mama Annie Davis was working on plans for the Santa’s Helper event, and the stretch of road known for its Lincoln Lights was a mecca for holiday cheer.

Friends and family were clearing the front lawn of Chris Small’s home of all the autumn leaves that had fallen and with two months to go before Christmas, Chris was putting the finishing touches on his light display.

A bit early perhaps, but this year, he was a man on a mission with $50,000 on the line, so everything had to be perfect.

Two years ago I covered Chris and Maria Small’s extensive light display that was synched to holiday music. People started flocking to Orange to see it.

Last year, The Smalls put out a donation box and all the money was split between two charities — the Habitat for Humanity and the Leukemia Society. This year, their chosen charity is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“Last year we collected $1,000 for the charities, I hope we can get that much for this year’s charity too,” he said.

In early September, Chris’s cousin Nicole received a text from a friend with information about the Great Christmas Light Fight contest that would air on ABC in December.

Chris and Maria put together a 10 minute (application) video of their display along with video introducing ABC to their family, 2 year old Cooper and their 6 month old twin babies.

Within two weeks, the family knew they had been accepted as contestants.

On October 1 ABC came to film the family for the backstory part of the show then he had 21 days to decorate the yard.

In the meantime, the family invited neighbors and friends to be “on set” during the filming and made up fliers to attract a few extra townspeople in holiday attire in order to set a festive scene for the cameras, but they did not post anything on their Lincoln Lights Facebook page because they didn’t think their little neighborhood could handle too many spectators.

Before the film crew arrived, a friend dropped off a truck load of “snow” and children happily frolicked through it and threw it up in the air when they got home from school.

On the night of the filming, about 200 people showed up to fill the stands, cheer on cue and stand by their hometown family. First Selectman Jim Zeoli first stopped by the house, then rushed over to the Grassy Hill Country Club for the big candidate’s debate, where he talked about the contest out of pride for his Park & Rec Dept groundskeeper.

I cringed, because I had spoken to Chris earlier that day and promised to keep everything quiet, because he had a “gag order” of sorts by contract with ABC not to discuss the contest.

I promise him, “I won’t put anything on Orange Live until your segment is going to air.”

Chris (and I) were surprised when a short time later, a town newspaper ran a story soon blurting out all the information it could—What? I was so afraid that the Smalls would be disqualified because of it.

My motto is: Just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

So for two months I’ve kept my promise and not printed a word about it and keeping my photos to myself until now.

The show didn’t end filming until 2:30 a.m. “We were tired, but it was so much fun!” Chris told Orange Live.

The very sweet celebrity judge, Sabrina Soto posed with the Small’s neighbors, friends and members of the Orange Police Department


Humble beginning

What makes someone want to go over the top with Christmas Lights?

Christmas is for children and three years ago, Chris and Maria didn’t have a family. Their extended family had kids, but the Smalls were struggling with infertility.

“We had to focus our attention on something else, so we chose Christmas,” Chris said. “We bought a couple of blow molds, then 50 blow molds, and then we went out on the day after Christmas and bought our first 15,000 lights. We hit all the stores and stocked up on lights and decorations — and ignored the problem of not having children.”

The Smalls adopted Cooper to fill the void (and he did an excellent job completing their lives), but they continued to build their Christmas decor… Then the twins came six months ago, and their holiday dreams all came true. Their lighting display just adds to the joy they already feel.

The Smalls display is made up of 27,000 lights, 100 blow molds and 2 inflatables. — “it’s bright,” he said with a laugh.

We love seeing all the people drive by and knowing that it makes them happy. Cooper loves the lights, he dances around in the yard and when we get home he says, “Lights on.”

Three years ago, with the first display, Chris knew nothing about synching lights to music, he did a lot of Internet research and got his first controller, then figured it all out from there.

“It’s a good feeling knowing I could build something from nothing,” he said.


Good Neighbors

The one thing the Smalls are most concerned about is not whether they will win or lose, but that they, and anyone who comes by to see the lights are respectful of their neighbors and their neighbor’s property.

“We have great neighbors, and they have been so patient throughout this whole thing,” he said.

He even included a plea to that effect to the music people hear when they tune in to the correct station on their car radio. To Help the traffic flow, Lincoln Road was made into a one-way street (with the cooperation of the police and highway departments) until the show is done airing tonight — so if you’re going out to see it, enter on the Wilson Road side.


The show

Tonight’s Show is back-to-back episodes from 9-11 p.m. The Smalls and 3 other families will compete in his episode, then one winner from each show the 9-10 pm and 10-11 episode, will be announced.

On the Lincoln Lights Facebook Page, small posted, “Tonight’s the big night, watch me and my family crush the competition on ABC’s – The Great Christmas Light Fight!!! Watch and cheer us onnnnnn!”