As Dave Irwin — Jessie’s husband — explained, the monthlong event is a boon to charity.
Last year, visitors donated $32,500; he expects $35,000 this year. Ultimately, it has become the biggest single-spot collection in Massachusetts, with the money it raises used to help at least 1,400 local people with food, toys, and other services this holiday season.
Beyond the community assistance, Irwin noted the sheer grandeur. “I’m taken aback by how beautiful it is,” he said. “It’s breathtaking.”
On a recent weeknight, just before 6 p.m., visitors lined up in their cars, after winding down a narrow street with modest houses beset with subtler decorations — shrubs silhouetted with white, lit-up reindeer, Christmas trees visible through front windows.
Then, as 6 p.m. tolled, they moved slowly through, bumper-to-bumper — a seemingly endless procession of cars, SUVs, minivans, and buses.
Music emanated from speakers in the woods, and Salvation Army workers rang bells, sang carols, and called out “Merry Christmas!” and “Enjoy the lights!” to the cars rolling by in a happy holiday gridlock.
“Whoa!” was a common expression heard from half-rolled- down windows. Necks craned in cars jammed full. Tiny fingers pointed. Some kids, overcome with excitement, hung halfway out moonroofs for a better view.
Watching it all from the side, Jessie Irwin said with a smile, “it’s our favorite part of Christmas.”
For more information visit www.milliswonderland.com.
Taryn Plumb can be reached at email@example.com.