Those multi-hued lights blinking vibrantly outside a Valley Shores Drive home aren’t your grandfather’s holiday display—they’re Joe’s Amazing Lights.
Now through Sunday, Jan. 15, Joe’s Amazing Lights will make their annual appearance every night, thanks to the dedication and creative mind of Guilford’s Joe Petrowski. Joe’s been putting on his holiday light show outside his parent’s home since he was a young teen, as a labor of love and to raise money for great causes. To date, Joe, now 26, has raised over $75,000 for charity—including nearly $30,000 in 2015, donated to Make-A-Wish Connecticut. This year’s display also benefits Make-A-Wish CT.
To the unassuming passerby driving through the neighborhood, Joe’s Amazing Lights may appear to be blinking a bit more than the typical home holiday display enthusiast’s. But fans of Joe know to pull over, tune their radio to 107.3 FM, and take in a show of 60,000 lights dancing to the music, all choreographed by Joe. Strung through the air, hanging from trees and even covering the family ranch house—including the roof and chimney—Joe’s Amazing Lights stutter, shine, sparkle, glow, blink, twinkle, and change into any number of dozens of designs, each a brilliant match for every holiday song in Joe’s music mix.
In addition to the dancing lights, there are glowing figurines, luminaria, and also projections to help capture the imagination. His inventory has been carefully curated over the years since he first started putting shows together. Joe’s bag of tricks also includes writing words in lights (think “Ho, Ho, Ho” and “Let It Snow”) across the front of the house. The words are hidden, only to pop in synchronization to matching lyrics when the timing is right. Layers of multi-colored lights also lay covertly over the house front from top to bottom, making a dramatic splash when they light up, all at once, to punctuate some very exciting musical moments. A stand of tree trunks, wrapped in white lights, do some extra special shimmering, as well.
“I haven’t changed it drastically, because people have their favorites that they kind of expect each year,” says Joe of the show. “But I replaced about 4,000 old lights with LED lights this year, so it’s actually a lot brighter than last year; and people are noticing.” Joe started pulling together this year’s display during weekend visits home beginning on Columbus Day weekend, in order to be ready to throw the switch for the first official night of this year’s show on Thanksgiving evening. Joe’s career currently keeps him in New York most of the year; working in the administrative side of the arts and with live performance organizations. He also spends a portion of his time in Florida each year; as a seasonal cast member at Disney World in Orlando. In fact, Joe says he was inspired to help Make-A-Wish CT after seeing many such wishes come true at Disney World.
“Working at Disney as a seasonal cast member, we interact with a lot of Make-A-Wish families from around the country, and sometimes the world. So you see the wishes happening,” says Joe. “It makes you a little emotional. So I was really happy to help Make-A-Wish CT last year, and I’ve also helped them out in the past. They’re a great organization. It’s really nice to be able to help them out around the holidays, and help the kids.”
On Tuesday, Dec. 27, Make-A-Wish CT will be hosting a Make-A-Wish Family Night, where wish kids from the area will be there to share their wishes with people from all over Connecticut, and one future Wish Kid will also be attending to “flip the switch” on Joe’s Amazing Lights, according to a press release from Make-A-Wish CT.
Joe is excited to have the special visitors and is thankful to everyone for being so supportive of his efforts through the years. He adds he has his parents to thank for being perennial good sports, as well as his neighbors. Joe also thanks all the folks who come out to see and support Joe’s Amazing Lights.
“I definitely appreciate my whole family’s support, the support of my neighbors and the whole community’s support,” says Joe. “It’s a hobby that’s really grown into this big, communal event that people look forward to. I’m looking forward to another successful season.”
If you haven’t visited Joe’s Amazing Lights, you can spot them any night, weather permitting, outside 163 Valley Shores Drive now through Sunday, Jan. 15. Shows run continuously Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Donations may be left in the collection box on display. For more information, visit ct.wish.org or visit Joe’s Amazing Lights on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JoesAmazingLights.