WILTON — For three years, Phil and Kim Hilton have given the surrounding communities a special gift: the Wilton Lights, an animated Christmas light display that has entertained viewers nightly and will continue this year through Jan. 6 at their 1228 Main St. home.
It’s time for a break, Phil Hilton said Tuesday. Expecting their first child this spring, they need to turn their efforts and finances toward some house renovations in preparation for the newest family member. The light show will be dark over the next holiday season, at least for one year, he said.
There’s still time to see the show that uses about 30,000 lights, a 6-foot Bethlehem star atop their house, and a line of lighted trees, arches and eaves and shrub lights all blinking to holiday music. The show plays each night from 5 to 9:30 p.m., weather permitting.
The lights could be extended one more day, till Jan. 7, if viewers meet the Hilton’s challenge to raise $1,000 for the Wilton Food Pantry.
Each year, the couple put a locked box on the back of a sign on their front lawn. The show is their “gift to the community” they say during the show, explaining that viewers can give gift back by donating to the Wilton Food Pantry.
The donations can be placed in the locked box, made online or given directly to the food pantry. Because the Hiltons are unaware of gifts given directly to the food pantry, they are not counted toward the added day challenge, he said.
As of Dec. 27, $597.75 has been donated. It is enough to purchase approximately 3,736 pounds of food for those in need, according to their website.
The food is purchased through the Good Shepherd Food-Bank, so the dollars given go farther for the local bank, which serves people in Wilton, Weld, North Jay and East Dixfield.
When people ask about donating to the expenses of the light show, the couple said they would rather people gave something to make people who are needy happy, Kim Hilton previously said.
The equipment is costly, but it’s a one-time expense, Phil Hilton said. The lights are not on all the time, so it’s not a huge electrical expense.
The project is time-consuming though.
“It takes four hours to set up one minute of music,” Phil, an IT consultant, said.
The actual display of trees and lights around their home takes up to 30 hours to set up. Storage of all the equipment and lights takes over their garage, he said.
After seeing a show in Utah on the Internet, the couple purchased a computer program and designed their own light show because it was something they loved doing.
There was a show in Auburn, but when that stopped the couple decided it was time for one in Wilton, Phil added.
The couple expanded on the Christmas show idea to include an annual Halloween show last year.
Sometimes there can be up to 30 cars parked across the road in the yard of the former Backus Garage, with occupants watching the lights and tuning in to the music broadcasted by a radio transmitter that reaches only the area in front of their home.
Although they ask people to keep their radio volumes down, they’ve had some issues this year and some rowdy guests, he said.
The garage space is for sale, which could also affect their ability to restart the show, he said.
More information is available on their website at www.wiltonlights.com
To see a video of the lighting display, go to sunjournal.com/wlights.