It is starting to look a lot like Christmas — especially in Hamilton Beach.
For the 13th year in a row, Christmas enthusiast Mike Giglio has adorned his home here with an array of vintage and handmade decorations, which will be on view for all to come visit from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31 at 102-24 Rau Court. This year’s theme is “Candy Cane Land.”
“I decorate for my community,” Giglio said. To him, Christmas joy means sharing the love and having peope come to enjoy all his hard work.
He begins on Oct. 1 and as of last week was still making finishing touches.
This year, the Giglio home will be lit up with 1.5 million lights, he said, which will likely come with an electric bill of upwards of $400 for the month.
That is why there is a donation box out front and, for the first time, there will be a Christmas shop set up selling goodies like hats, stockings and antlers to wear.
Seventy percent of the proceeds will go to a selected charity, likely St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Giglio said.
This year, the Home Depot on Rockaway Boulevard donated a tree to add to the display.
There will also be a cupcake giveaway on Dec. 10 from 7 to 10 p.m. with a rain date of Dec. 11 and a visit from Santa Claus on Dec. 17 from 7 to 10 p.m.
The light display will be on every Monday through Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 7 to 11 p.m, weather permitting. Free candy will be given out.
As a child, Giglio said he would pester his father to string the house with lights and the traditional cross celebrating the birth of Jesus. Now, his display includes a nativity scene, which he said is the “real meaning of Christmas.”
Then, while renting a house in Richmond Hill starting at the age of 19, Giglio began his own decorating tradition.
“I have went from small to very, very big,” he explained.
He went from 400 lights to a thousand and more.
He began collecting vintage decorations from flea markets, like one piece that was given to him when he was 23 years old.
Giglio has made and painted many of the pieces by hand in what can only be imagined as his own North Pole workshop, like a Minnie and Mickey Mouse and Grinch and Cindy Lou Who set.
When his daughters were young, he would tell them, “When Santa Claus flies over our house, no way in hell is he going to miss us.”
Now, passengers on low-flying planes in and out of John F. Kennedy Airport may be able to spot him.
Building a wonderland in southern Queens also comes with other practicalities. Giglio elevates decorations on boards to protect them from flooding, a regular occurrence in Hamilton Beach.
But at 62, he says he does not know how many more Christmases he can participate in. With retirement on the horizon, those interested should get down to see the fun while they can.
Until then, Giglio is once again entering the annual Howard Beach Dads Light Fight, for which more details will be announced soon.