FAIRFIELD, Conn. — The Christmas holidays are bright at the "Wonderland at Roseville," where the Halliwell family has been decorating their Fairfield home on a large scale for nearly two decades.
This year, some lights are a little dimmer and the music is more muted. But there’s peace on Roseville Terrace after a petition threatened to end the popular 300,000-light Christmas extravaganza.
“It’s resolved,” homeowner Gene Halliwell said of complaints from neighbor about the crowds and traffic that come with "Wonderland at Roseville."
Each year for the last 18, Halliwell and family and friends have erected the display, which features cartoon characters, lit-up stars, a porch filled with Christmas village houses and nutcrackers and even a tiny chapel behind their home at 226 Roseville.
While he doesn’t charge admission, the 35-year Shriner does accept donations for the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Mass., from the families that make annual pilgrimages to the home.
And therein was the problem. Holiday cheer-seekers create nightly traffic tie-ups and parking woes from opening night on Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day along narrow Roseville and Sawyer Road, which connects to it.
Halliwell estimates about 30,000 people showed up last year, not counting those who simply drive by the dazzling display.
About 45 people representing more than 25 households signed a petition asking the town to address the situation so they and their guests could find adequate parking in all the holiday hubbub. Sawyer Road resident Nadine Losquadro delivered the petition to the first selectman’s office.
For the last two years, the Fairfield Police Department has added bright orange temporary no parking signs along Roseville. Halliwell said they have extended that this year to stretch down Sawyer as well to help appease the neighbors, some of whom are fans of the annual display.
The Halliwells also agreed to turn down the volume on the Christmas music piped around their home and to dim some of the pixel lighting.
Halliwell agreed to shorten the public viewing times, too, though he says he doesn’t turn away latecomers.
"Over the last several weeks, there has been much discussion on these issues and both sides made concessions so the event can continue," said Police Lt. Robert Kalamaras. "This is clearly a quality-of-life issue that the neighborhood came together to do something to reduce the impact to the people who live there."
Losquadro told the Connecticut Post she appreciates the “entertainment to the community and the charity that the Wonderland at Roseville brings,” but wondered if the town could have fans park in nearby lots and post a crossing guard to get people across busy Black Rock Turnpike.
While that doesn’t appear to be in the cards, Halliwell said he was heartened to see Losquadro stop by to chat about the situation and the efforts he’s made to help.
“She came up,” he said. “She’s not against us.”
While Halliwell had told reporters this might be Wonderland at Roseville’s swan song, he said he’s now hoping to continue the twinkling tradition next year.
“Barring anything else that goes on,” he said.
Want to see what all the fuss is about? Wonderland at Roseville is just off Black Rock Turnpike at 226 Roseville Terrace. The hours, which are subject to change, are 5 to 9 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Check out their Facebook page for more information.
Read the full CT Post story here.
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