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Wilton Holiday Tradition Is Made of Lights

WILTON, Conn. – It all starts with candy cane pillars.

For the past 25 years, Wilton resident Walter Schalk has decorated his house with lights to celebrate the holiday season. And it starts with making the pillars of his house into lit-up candy canes.

“We do it in sections, so people say, 'What’s next?'” said Schalk, who lives on Drum Hill Road.

He is a show business man and has been for 55 years. He started the Walter Schalk School of Dance. He said that part of the reason he started putting up lights was because he’s in theater. And it’s a process to get the lighting all set up.

“It started with a tree that I planted when I built my first house,” Schalk said. The tree grew to 30 feet. “I forget how many lights there were.” If one light went out, he said a cherry picker was needed to change it.

The lighting has only gotten more elaborate. This year at his second house, he said there would be Santa on his sleigh with reindeer on the front lawn. The gazebo by the lake will be covered in lights and the house held up by candy cane pillars and stars lighting the windows.

The decorations bring people back time and again, Schalk said. He has heard parents say that their children always want to go past his house again.

One story stands out to him. In his first house with the 30-foot tree, he said a woman came to the door one day. “And she said, ‘I’m a corporate woman and all I do is work and I have to tell you that this is the best thing that happens to me at Christmas time. I look forward to going by your house on my way home because I love that tree I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you’re doing.’”

If you know of a house that is decked out for the holidays, let us know! Email photos or stories of your favorite holiday light show to Alissa Smith at

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