When I called Wayne Smith to ask about his magnificently over-the-top holiday lights display, which I had visited for the first time the night before, he said, incredulously, “How long have you lived in Addison County?! And this was your first time?!”
Wayne and his wife, Diane, have created an outrageous wonderland of illumination on their Salisbury property every December for more than 25 years. In the nearly two decades I’ve lived in Vermont, I had never seen it.
Wayne, who just retired from 28 years driving a bus for the MUHS sports teams, said he’s seeing even more visitors than usual this year. Last Friday and Saturday nights drew 100 cars each.
Watching folks admire the lights is always a joy for the Smiths, but it has had extra significance this year.
“It’s been a crazy year for everybody,” Wayne acknowledged. “Our household has been a little crazier because my wife had a heart transplant on Mothers’ Day.” Wayne explained that Diane spent 44 days at Boston General Hospital last spring. “She got the ultimate gift: a new heart.”
Her recovery has gone well enough that she is now taking care of their 3-year-old granddaughter two days a week, he reported. Still, because of her compromised immune system, the Smiths have been truly housebound throughout the pandemic.
“I’m lucky, my living room chair lets me see the cars come in and out,” said Wayne. “Especially this year when we can’t have any contact really.”
Wayne and one of his neighbors start setting up the display each year on November 1. By the day after Thanksgiving, they’re ready to roll. They use half a mile of extension cords and 14 timers to automatically turn the whole thing on at dusk and off at 10 p.m. He says his electricity bill goes up about $20 a day. At 9 a.m. on January 1, they take it all down and store it in Wayne’s “toy shed,” an industrial-size garage on his property.
“It’s our Christmas present to the community,” he said.
Do the Smiths plan to keep doing the display each year now that he’s officially retired?
“As long as I’m still healthy and I’ve got neighbors to help,” he said.
Want to visit the Smiths’ display? It’s on North Pond Road, which is just off Lake Dunmore Road in Salisbury, halfway between Kampersville and Camp Keewaydin. Don’t worry; it is so bright, you literally cannot miss it.