Every year, thousands of people flock to the Halliwell home in Fairfield, Connecticut, to enjoy the family’s elaborate Christmas decorations. And that’s why some of their neighbors want them to stop.
As the Connecticut Post reported, the Halliwells call their Christmas display “Wonderland at Roseville,” and it’s an apt description. There are train sets, nutcrackers, a chapel, places to pose for photos, and more than 300,000 lights.
The family has been putting up the decorations for 18 years. While they don’t charge admission, they do ask for donations to the Shriners Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts. Over the years, they say tens of thousands of dollars have been donated to the cause.
The display is so popular they estimate that 30,000 people came to Roseville Terrace to enjoy the lights last year. And Gene Halliwell told the Post, “that’s not counting the drive-bys.”
But that’s what’s bothering some of the Halliwell’s neighbors. Twenty-eight households have delivered a petition with 45 signatures to the local government, asking the town do something about the increased traffic caused by the display.
Nadine Losquadro, the neighbor who submitted the petition, told the Post the community appreciated the Halliwells’ decorations, but it felt it brought a “significant public safety concern” in the form of traffic and parking issues. She added:
“We did not move into our homes knowing there would be, or could be, parking restrictions imposed on us for six weeks out of every year during prime holiday time.”
Police have attempted to alleviate congestion by restricting parking to one side of the street and adding a one-way route. However, Losquadro says the town’s measures have made things worse, not better. She told the Post she would like to see on-street parking restricted to residents only:
“It would be a detriment for us if we are officially prevented from parking on our street, or having our guests park on our street, during the holiday season.”
The Halliwell family was caught off-guard by the petition and say they’re hurt no one ever approached them first. In the video below, Mary Halliwell told WTIC they’re willing to compromise:
“We’ve cut back on our hours and we’ve also lowered the voltage of the lights so they will not be as bright with also lower the music.”
Gene told Fox 61 he would love it if — instead of opposing the display — the whole community got in the holiday spirit:
“Why don’t we all put up lights? Let’s really make it a neighborhood to really bring the people around.”
Moreover, not everyone in the area has a problem with the Halliwell’s decorations. Some residents have told the family how much they look forward to it every year. Jim Smith, a neighbor, told WTIC:
“I love it. With all the kids coming and the people coming it doesn’t bother me.”
After two decades, Gene Halliwell wonders what will happen if the display comes to an end. Not only will the Shriners Hospital miss out on their donation, but it could affect the town as well. Gene told the Post the display brings paying tourists to the area, especially for the Santa visits:
“There will be businesses losing out. People come here and have dinner and then go see the lights.”
For this season, the Fairfield police have promised to increase patrols, especially on the busiest days. But the long-term fate of Wonderland at Roseville is still in doubt. As Maryanne Halliwell, Gene and Mary’s daughter, told the Post: “We’re trying to figure out what to do. It’s probably our last year, it’s a real shame.”