This isn’t the first year that Charles Fiore’s all-out Christmas lights display just off I-93 in Wilmington has gotten attention.
But this is the first time it’s gotten so much.
Last week, Fiore’s family house and elaborate drive-through display — both of which he quite literally covered with lights — on Concord Street took the $50,000 first-place prize on ABC’s reality TV show “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” In addition to standing up a full-size set of intricate building facades, the 23-year-old explained that he spaced out each strand of lights by two and half inches, the same distance between each bulb on the strand.
“I just wanted to make a perfect square of lights so everything was uniform,” Fiore said on the show, impressing judge Taniya Nayak.
Of course, Nayak isn’t only one who appreciates Fiore’s attention to detail.
“The traffic has been pretty significant,” Wilmington Deputy Police Chief Brian Pupa told Boston.com on Monday.
“Between the national notoriety and the pandemic, where people are restricted to where they can go, those things have kind of led to the situation where it’s more popular than ever,” Pupa said.
While the show was filmed last fall, it aired for the first time nationally Wednesday night. The following night, Wilmington police had to warn local residents to avoid the area around Fiore’s house at 12R Concord St. due to “extremely heavy traffic.”
“If you want to view the lights we suggest waiting until later in the evening or viewing them on another night,” the department wrote.
There is extremely heavy traffic on Concord Street due to the Christmas lights display. We recommend motorists avoid the area. If you want to view the lights we suggest waiting until later in the evening or viewing them on another night. #WilmingtonMA
— Wilmington MA Police (@WilmingtonMAPD) December 10, 2020
On Saturday, it was more of the same.
“Once again there are major traffic back-ups in the Concord Street area,” Wilmington police wrote, posting a screenshot of the Google Maps image indicating that nearly half-mile stretch of the residential road was at a crawl.
Wilmington police have had to deploy officers to held direct traffic and keep things moving so that neighbors can get in and out of the area. Pupa says the typical wait time to do the down-and-back drive down Fiore’s winding driveway is about 30 minutes, though he’s heard that it’s been up to an hour.
Once again there are major traffic back-ups in the Concord Street area. We recommend motorists avoid the area. Officers are assisting with traffic control. Please do not call 911 to report traffic back-ups. #WilmingtonMA pic.twitter.com/O551cXcVy3
— Wilmington MA Police (@WilmingtonMAPD) December 13, 2020
That seems like a small price to pay compared to the work that went into creating the display.
According to the Lowell Sun, Fiore and his friends and family put about seven weeks — and $45,000 — into building and decorating the movie-like set.
The family keeps the lights on until 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and until 10 p.m. on weekends. Pupa recommends visiting somewhat on the later side to avoid the most disruptive traffic. Still, with holiday celebrations limited this year due to the pandemic, he’s happy that the display is getting attention.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to come enjoy Christmas during this unique experience that we’re all in,” Pupa said. “We just want to try and make it as safe and as enjoyable as possible, while balancing the needs to keep the road open.”
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