Bayville Christmas House lights up the night

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The house was playing in sync with the music on the speakers and on the radio. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

BERKELEY — “Over the River and Through the Woods” might be the way to Grandma’s house, but there’s another place to go this holiday season.

If you walk down Grant Concourse, off Route 9, the road falls into darkness as the few streetlights are left behind. The road turns a few times. The first light you will see is through the bare winter trees. This is the first clue that you are about to see something magnificent.

When you pull up, there’s a trail of lights leading up to the house, lit up in all its glory. The house is lined with lights, flashing to the beat of songs playing over loudspeakers or on the radio if you tune in to the station indicated on a sign. A menagerie of colorful characters welcomes you to the lawn. As “Let It Snow” plays, a snowmaker dusts the front of the yard.

Photo by Chris Lundy

Tom Makowski said he used to decorate like this at his old house on Woodhaven Avenue near Central Regional. They settled here a few years ago and are reviving the tradition.

“I think a lot of people think we quit,” he said.

You could Google “best Christmas homes in New Jersey” and they would be on the first page of results. They had won the Jersey Central Power & Light Christmas lights competition several times. And it’s normal for a power company to hold a light contest. After all, there are over 200,000 bulbs and 300 extension cords.

The electricity bill increases by a few hundred dollars during the month. They have a donation box to help out. For the past few years they used to do a food drive for St. Barnabas. It was much busier then, with a quarter mile line down the street on the weekend before Christmas. This year, living in a quiet area, they don’t really have much traffic.

Photo by Chris Lundy

Getting the lights to turn on in sync with the music takes a lot of programming, Mankowski said. Each string of lights should be in sync with the beat. There’s a lot more tech going on behind the scenes than a casual observer might realize.

The decorating started on November 4 and “I went out almost every day”.

The decision to decorate again was not taken lightly. He asked his daughters if they should do it. The answer: “Certainly. Of all the years to do it, this is the one.

Photo by Chris Lundy
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