BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. – After 20 years of decorating her home for her neighbors’ enjoyment at Christmas, Rose Lagace had another reason for her holiday display this year.
She set it up in time for Thanksgiving, rather than waiting as usual for early December, to ensure that terminally ill neighbor Eugene Fields, one of its annual admirers, would have the chance to
enjoy it one last time.
Lagace added a lighted tree to her display, dedicated to Fields, and placed it where it would be visible from his bedroom window.
Soon after Fields’ daughter brought him home to see the display, and the special tree, he died.
“We decorated to make the kids happy, to make Mr. Fields happy. Everything was done for him,” said Lagace.
“He saw his tree, he came home just for it. That was our Christmas,” she said.
Lagace’s house, at 25 First St., was decorated by Clarence St. Amant with the help of Lagace and others.
With eight trees, lots of colored lights, Mrs. Claus, assorted Santas, a nativity scene, snowmen, toy soldiers, candy canes, stars, and music that makes the neighbors dance, this holiday display is an
Their work was chosen as the overall winner of The Bristol Press holiday decorating contest, judged by a team of staff writers from The Tattoo, a teenage newspaper that appears in its pages. The high school students work under the direction of reporters Jackie Majerus and Steve Collins.
Winning first place came as a surprise for Lagace, who did not know her home had been entered in the second annual contest by a friend.
Janice Simmons, the nominator, said this was the first year she noticed the display.
“It’s nice to see decorating over the holidays,” said Simmons.
St. Amant, a Bristol resident for 31 years, is a carpenter by trade and good with his hands.
A tree of lights, a wooden Santa, and a manger are among the decorations at the First Street home made by St. Amant.
He said his interest in decorating stems from his childhood. In the fifth grade, while his classmates were outside at recess, St. Amant stayed indoors and painted Christmas scenes on the windows.
Lagace’s yard will stay decorated each year for as long as St. Amant is able to do it.
“I say I’ll quit every year, but I never do. As long as there’s no vandalism I’ll keep decorating,” said St. Amant.
The display will be up until New Year’s. The lights are turned on from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m.
To find Lagace’s house, head north on Middle Street from the corner of Broad Street and take the first right. It’s impossible to miss — but be careful, the street is small.
The contestants were limited to those nominated by people who donated toys for needy children, which were delivered to the Bristol Community Organization to pass out recently.
Sadly, many wonderful displays around town could not be considered because nobody entered them.
BEST DISCO WINDOW – 24 Shingle Mill Rd., a nice Martha Stewart design enlivened by one funky window, with the Christmas tree twinkling behind it.
BEST GREENERY – 75 Poitras Rd. It has plenty of big green wreaths with red ribbons.
BEST ‘BOOGIE DOWN’ HOUSE – 145 Lake Ave. This place was so wild that some of the judges felt compelled to leap from the car and bow to it. Across the street, by the way, is another pretty good boogie down home.
BEST RELIGIOUS WINDOW – 127 Lake Ave. A nativity scene in the window, with a frosted glass angel.
MOST SPIRITED SERVICE STATION – Karl’s Mobil gas station at the corner of Pine and Middle streets. It has a swell star on its roof and some great windows.
BEST GINGERBREAD HOUSE – 87 Lancaster Rd. Outlined in big colored lights, with a train, Santa, candy canes and candles.
MOST ELEGANT – 468 Stevens St. It’s hard to beat the waving, realistic Santa and elf in the front yard, standing beside two reindeer. There are also plenty of white lights, red bows and greenery.
BEST ROOF – 85 Blakeslee St. Santa won’t miss this one when he’s soaring over Bristol. The roof spells out “Hope” in gigantic letters beside a lighted cross.
BEST PORCH – 169 High St. A terrific porch in traditional style.
BEST DISCO PINWHEEL – 99 Curtiss St. A great house with one incredible snowflake on its side. It changes color and shape.
BEST FLYING SANTA – 104 Curtiss St. A nice house with a plastic Santa, sleigh and reindeer whizzing across its side yard.
BEST FEEBLE EFFORT – Biscayne West grill on West Street. Though we love its food, and peer into it on the way to school each morning from the bus windows, the pitiful decorations just can’t pass without notice. It has but one strand of lights across the bottom of its window, with only one half of the bulbs blinking.
BEST FLASHY RAILINGS – 291 Park St. Great blinking lights on the front railings, and some interesting bushes.
BEST BACKYARD – 191 Gridley St. Get out of your car and have a look. It’s charming.
BEST USE OF FRUIT – 45 Melinda Lane. Nice traditional effort, but we particularly liked the use of fruit in the decorations.
BEST BUSINESS DISPLAY – 398 Riverside Ave. B & D Auto has a towering Christmas tree of lights on its roof. Swell.
We also want to mention a couple of displays that should have been entered but weren’t.
At 25 Abbey Road sits a glowing home that can probably be seen from Mars. At 15 Bentley Road is Bristol’s biggest snowman that’s worth a look. Frosty would be jealous.
Drive safely and Merry Christmas!
Hila Yosafi and Courtney Pendleton are Reporters for Youth Journalism International. Contributing to this story were YJI reporters Brian LaRue, Amanda Lehmert, Danielle Ouimet and
Jackie Vallee. This piece was first published as a special to The Bristol Press.