Lighting up for Christmas is labour of love for Halifax brothers

For almost two decades, two homes that bookend a block of Connaught Avenue in Halifax have featured one of the most visited Christmas light displays in the city.

Every year, brothers Carman and Nick Giacomantonio, originally from Whitney Pier in Cape Breton, have worked together on the display.

Stopping to admire their work has become something of a Christmas tradition for Haligonians. The display has led to major local support for food banks.

When CBC Radio visited the home of Carman Giacomantonio, he told Information Morning Halifax that there are too many lights to count.

He said every year he works with his wife, Margot, and his four adult children to put up the lights and take them down again.

The discussion has been edited for length and clarity.

A home is covered with Christmas lights in various colours.
The homes bookend a block of Connaught Avenue in Halifax. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

Information Morning – NS10:22Brothers bring spectacular Christmas light show to life in Halifax every year

Brothers Carman and Nick Giacomantonio have been providing Halifax with an eye-catching Christmas light show for almost two decades. Every year Haligonians flock to see the display at their homes on Connaught Avenue. Information Morning producer Christina Harnett spoke to Carman Giacomantonio about why and how they do it.

Do you hire someone to put up these lights?

nope. This is all us. We take it apart and put it together every year and spend a lot of time at Canadian Tire. This whole thing has always been about family.

When I was a kid, in Whitney Pier, one of the families had a reindeer flying from their house to a garage roof, and my mother said, ‘Wouldn’t we love to do that?’

Cars driving by home covered with lights and Christmas ornaments
Motorists slow down Connaught Avenue to appreciate the light show. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

So, we went to a flower shop and we got wicker reindeer and we went to the hardware store and bought some plywood and cut out a sleigh and that there was a big blow-up Santa Claus at one of the hardware stores.

And we put this thing together and my mom didn’t know we were doing it. When she saw it she was overwhelmed.

After that people came around and… it was enough to attract attention. And my mom loved that idea.

Do you remember her reaction when she saw it?

She was emotional about it. She was tickled pink. It was just such a gift.

What did the neighbors think when this whole thing started?

There was no point trying to compete because it was silly.

The porch of a white house is illuminated with lights and a Christmas tree and there are white lights on the hedge in front.
Carman Giacomantonio says some of the neighbors have ‘upped their game’ in lighting this year. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

A young family moved in next to Nick and they really upped the game. Poor Dennis, my next door neighbour, had to jump in and he… says, ‘You got to stop. I can’t afford this anymore,’ but we have fun.

What about the crowds that turn up in front of your houses during December? What is that like for your family?

It is so wonderful. The most wonderful part are the little kids. Up on the third floor, we have Santa in the window and…it’s heartwarming to hear a little person yell ‘Hi Santa.’

It’s the best. And as the crowds came along so did the donations. Something that just happened spontaneously.

The food bank thing started because people… dropped off food and said it was a gift.

House illuminated by various Christmas Christmas displays including snowmen and a sled
Every year the brothers create a Christmas light display that is a highlight of the season for many in Halifax. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

I thought, well, that’s a great idea. So that year we put a bucket out and we put a little sign that said food bank. And it was spilling over every night.

How far into this process was your mother with you? How much of this extravaganza was she able to see?

She’s gone about 13 years so we’re about double what we were.

It grows every year but she saw most of it. We had the nativity scene, which was a big thing for her, of course, and us but that was a big addition for her, and the individual lighting of the trees.

She was over the moon. She loved Christmas here.

How long will you keep it going?

Until I’m too old. Until my kids get tired of it.

Houses on a street in the background are brightly illuminated with many lights.  A grassy area is in the foreground.
The Christmas lights on Connaught Avenue have been a popular attraction for almost two decades. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

Every year in February we take them down and we talk about, ‘When is it time to stop?’

But I don’t think we could ever stop really. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to sell the house, so we’re probably doomed.

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