SABATTUS — When you’ve been building your Christmas lights display for 30 years, it’s not always easy to know when it’s time to slow down.

For Frank and Linda Curtis, the answer came from above — the transformer outside their Keay Road home blew and it didn’t take the power company man long at all to identify the culprit.

“We have probably ten thousand lights out here,” Frank said. “We’ve been adding to it every year. This year, we kind of maxed it out.”

Kind of.

But with a few adjustments and with Central Maine Power promising to install a bigger transformer, Frank and Linda Curtis are back in business.

That business is Christmas spirit, and it’s on dazzling display along an otherwise dark stretch of Keay Road. The display runs along either side of the Curtis home and a little bit across the street, where his mother lives. It features a little of everything, including more than a dozen inflatables and a pleasing mix of new-fangled decorations and many from bygone years.


In one spot, to the left of the house, is a classic manger scene with plastic characters lit from within. At one time, that would have been a common sight around Christmas, but not so much these days.

“It’s hard to find those plastic pieces,” Linda said. “Every yard sale we go by, we stop and look for them.”

One recent summer, they got lucky on a trip to Moosehead Lake and found some of the plastic characters on sale in somebody’s yard. Bingo. Into the Curtis yard they went and the display grew a little bigger, to the point where that entire stretch of Keay Road now glows like a twinkling airport.

“Believe it or not,” Linda said, “it started small.”

It was small three decades ago, maybe, but not any more. Frank begins the work of stringing up his lights and placing his various characters the day after Halloween (for which they also go a little crazy.) Over the years, he learned that the big inflatable fellows — all the familiar faces are here, including Santa, The Grinch, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh — needed to take up residence on the south side of the house rather than the north. On the north side, gusting winds wreak havoc with anything that happens to be six feet tall and full of air.

The Curtis Christmas display is sprawling yet somehow it doesn’t feel cluttered. That’s no accident: Frank is always tinkering, pilfering ideas from the displays of others and rearranging on a whim. From the roadway, it’s impossible to see all of the display in one big gulp. That’s intentional, too. Frank created the display in sections so as to prolong the enjoyment of passersby.


The Curtis’ yard display is impressive, to say the least.

But the yard is not the end of it.

“You think the outside is something?” Frank said. “You wait until you see inside.”

The inside is Linda’s domain. While Frank is laboring in the yard during the run up to Christmas, she’s at work in every room of their two-story house.

Each of those rooms has a Christmas tree, including a 12-foot monster in the living room that Frank feels is undersized. In the main window facing the street is a variety of holiday characters, almost every one of them in motion. There are Christmas carolers, two feet high, swaying from side to side. There’s a musical Grinch, a floating angel and more than a dozen others joining the show, almost every one of them animated in one way or another.

“They all do something a little bit different,” Linda said.


In a hallway upstairs is a replica village with 75 illuminated houses, a skating rink, a train, another floating angel and Santa himself, soaring in a hot air balloon. The village, though minature, is vast enough that a visitor has to walk through it to see everything there.

In a nearby room, a life-size Santa sits in a chair next to a twinkling Christmas tree. There are classic Peanuts characters around another tree in what was once the bedroom of the Curtis’ now-grown son.

It’s Christmas spirit at full strength on Keay Road and for Frank, it’s the culmination of a lifelong dream.

“When I was a kid, my mother and father used to take me out to look at all the Christmas lights,” he said. “I always said, ‘Hey, I want to do something like this someday.'”

The issue with the power transformer notwithstanding, Frank and Linda Curtis are happy with this year’s display, although Frank is not yet fully satisfied. There’s one element missing.

“If there was just a little bit of snow,” he lamented, “it would make it all so much brighter.”


There’s no snow yet, but there are lights — so many lights and so many Christmas characters that feed on electricity. The Curtis’ typical bill, in non-holiday times of year, is under $100 a month. At Christmastime, it approaches $500, which Frank and Linda shrug off as part of the cost of enjoying the season.

As for the transformer, the only houses affected when it blew were the Curtis’ and Frank’s mother. Even so, the CMP worker who came out wasn’t exactly overflowing with Christmas cheer.

“He wasn’t impressed,” Linda recalled. “He said, ‘We’re not going to keep coming out here night after night.'”

The problem has been addressed. The Curtis household is radiant again with Christmas cheer and it will be so for the next two weeks. After that it will all be over and Keay Road will be reclaimed by darkness.

“It looks pretty bare when it all comes down,” Frank said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.