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Rusty Griswold lights up Devlin Drive for Christmas

Free family event once again accepting donations for Sick Kids Foundation

Rusty Griswold is at it again.

The magical gingerbread-themed Christmas display, featuring some 14,000 LED lights, went live at 2176 Devlin Ave. on Nov. 25, and Rusty — aka Mike Madole — encourages visitors to stop by and get into the Christmas spirit. The twinkling starts each night at 6 p.m. and runs until 10:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. This year’s show continues through  New Year’s Day.

A quick visit to the event website tells you all you need to know about the yuletide labour of love, an homage to the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation tradition, that started back in 2015.

“By building my Christmas light display each year, I try to recapture the excitement and magic of Christmas morning for kids,” Madole notes. “Now as an older kid, I’m sharing my enthusiasm for the season through Christmas lights.”

He starts installing the display each year in mid-October, but the planning and preparation begins long before; blueprint designs for new features need to be completed by April, and he uses the summer months to check older light strings and props for potential repairs and prepare a list and buy supplies.

The end result has evolved into much more than a light display. The installation features a playlist of Christmas tunes, via outdoor speakers set up on the property or by tuning the car radio to 104.9 FM. The event also has its own Facebook page and YouTube channel, and the website features games for kids, blogs and tips for DIYers to create their own holiday installations.

New features for this year include the addition of 4,000 bulbs, for a total of just over 14,000 LED lights. And, following tradition, a new Christmas song has been added to the playlist: Sia's "Santa's Coming for Us", selected by Madole's 16-year-old daughter. "For the first time, she did most of the programming as well," noted Madole. 

In 2021, Madole added a charitable component. Visits to the nightly display are free, but those who stop by can make a donation to Sick Kids Foundation by scanning a QR code posted at the front of the property or by visiting the website. Last year, the initiative raised $2,445, and the goal for 2022 is $2,500.

"Between my wife designing props, and my two daughters and I programming or building display items, the Rusty Griswold Light Display is truly a family affair," said Madole. "This is why we choose to support the SickKids Foundation. The holiday season is a time for family, and what better way to help support families than by collecting donations for SickKids?

“We have never accepted financial support or sponsorship for our display,” notes Madole. “We prefer that the support goes to an agency that can put your money to better use…helping kids!”

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Brenda Jefferies

About the Author: Brenda Jefferies

Brenda Jefferies is Editor of FlamboroughToday. Brenda’s work has been recognized at the provincial, national and international levels, with awards for local sports, headline and editorial writing
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