Hung With Care, This Family's Spectacular Christmas Display Brings the Community Together
The best thing about Christmas decorations is that they deliver equal amounts of joy to the decorators as they do to the observers. For Gene and Mary Halliwell, Connecticut natives and creators of the "Wonderland At Roseville," a love for holiday decorating turned into an annual event that lights up their whole community—figuratively and literally! After 7 years of gathering decorations, the Halliwells' Wonderland contains more than 800 pieces and shines with more than 350,000 lights.
"We like to have people see things that they don't see anywhere else," Mary says. But also, "we buy what we want."
That's the beauty of decoration displays like the Wonderland at Roseville: they are win-wins! Plus, the Halliwells found a way to create even more impact with their annual display. They gather donations from visitors to the Wonderland, and donate all proceeds to Shriners Children's Hospital, which provides free care for kids up to their 22nd birthday.
Gene and Mary's daughter Maryanne, Maryanne's husband Brian, and their family friend Billy all help create the Wonderland each year, prepping the house and yard for the premiere, which takes place at 5PM on Thanksgiving Day. The Halliwells hope that Maryanne will continue the tradition at her house in the future, wherever that might be. For the sake of her future community, we hope so as well!
"When you come here, you're just happy," says one visitor.
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At the age of 24, Shilamida felt that she had found success: she was earning a six-figure income and had a nice boyfriend. But just 2 years, everything seemed to fall apart. Her relationship ended shortly before she discovered she was pregnant. Her father passed away from cancer and her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time; Shilamida found herself as a single mother and was living in poverty. This was rock bottom.