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Fairfield Family Creates a Winter Wonderland

The Halliwells' home sits on Roseville Terrace, but from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day you can easily see it from Black Rock Turnpike. Heck, you could probably see it from outer space. Every holiday season for more than a decade, Gene and Mary Halliwell turn their home into the "Wonderland at Roseville," a blinding display of lights, figurines and music.

"Look at the kids," Gene says. "They're just amazed. And if you can make them happy, why wouldn't you keep doing it?"

Christmas decorations have always been a big deal at the Halliwell home. And though they started from scratch when they moved 11 years ago from Fairfield Woods Road, the two have continued to add to the massive display every year. With the help of their daughter Maryanne Mulligan and her husband George, as well as Mary and Billy Frostick and Michael Bihary, they have adorned their house and lawn with more than 120,000 bulbs, in a 1,000-hour process.

But of course, it's more than just lights and statues. The crew also has a constant loop of holiday music playing, synced up with flashing light bulbs. And Mary says the big draw is the trains. Each year, they put out two operational models, one in the front yard and one wrapping around the whole house. And this year they added a custom-made wooden model, handmade by a friend in Stratford.

"The kids love the trains," Mary said. "If the trains aren't out, they're not happy."

Word has gotten out about the Halliwells' display. In good weather, they get hundreds of visitors per night, and they estimate 10,000 people total came out last year. For their Christmas Eve festivities alone, they drew a crowd of 1,200 to see Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus give out candy canes to the kids.

Mary and Gene would not say exactly how big their electric bills are each year, but they also won't accept any financial help in that regard. Instead, a few years ago, they began accepting donations for the Shriners Hospitals for Children . Gene, a Shriner for 30 years, estimates they have raised more than $10,000 in three years.

"For years, people would say, 'We have to give you something,'" Mary says. "And my husband would say, 'No, it makes you happy. If you want to, then donate to the Shriners.'"

Have you visited the "Wonderland at Roseville?" Do you know of another great display in town?

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