BREWER — For the Tolman family, the holidays are about family.
And Christmas lights.
Lots of them.
Each year Steve Tolman, Jr. creates a visual delight that has won him accolades from the Appomattox Road neighborhood. And a little friendly competition too from neighboring streets.
“We’ve been doing this for six years and this is our first house,” Tolman said. “Now there’s a very friendly competition in the neighborhood. It started out as just a few houses in the neighborhood doing it. Now every year it seems like more get on board.”
Now the neighborhood is known for its light displays, pulling people from throughout the area in for slow tours of the homes lit up for the holidays.
“We used to always ride around and look at the lights,” said his wife, Emily. “This [neighborhood] was one of the developments we looked at and we said that one day we would do it too.”
Today, the house is known for its creativity and whole house displays.
“Every year we add more, but now we’re at capacity because it blows circuits,” Tolman said. “And the electric bills go up, but it’s worth it because it’s part of the tradition.”
That tradition includes help from other members of the family, including his father Steve Tolman, Sr., and Jamey Gushee.
Starting at the beginning of November, Tolman starts the process of preparing the items he’ll need, including the 40 sets of lights and extension cords.
“We usually know what we’re going to do when we start and how to get it done,” Tolman said. “With the addition of the kids it’s getting a little bit harder.”
The Tolmans are starting to include 3-year-old twins Jackson and Jordan as well as 15-month-old Jensen, in the festivities. This year, the boys helped their father by providing company and occasionally helping check the strands of lights for broken bulbs.
“The biggest issue we face is what direction to plug them in,” Tolman said. “We plan a strategy each year and determine where we will plug them in.”
As seasoned veterans, another advantage the Tolmans have is a collection of ladders.
“We have every ladder size out there,” he said. “That’s big, and it’s the reason we help with other neighborhood lights.”
Emily contributes by hanging wreaths on each window. “That’s my thing,” she said. But she supplies more than just the wreaths, Steve said. She supplies enthusiasm for the tradition.
“She’s encouraged it every year,” Steve said. “We always did family rides and we always wanted to [create holiday displays]. The boys love it, especially riding around the neighborhood at night.”
To see the Tolmans display, visit Appomattox Road in the Gettysburg Avenue neighborhood off North Main Street in Brewer.