If you experience a voltage drop around 4:30 p.m. don’t be too concerned about another power outage, it’s just Jerry Ghinelli's Christmas lights coming to life.
This Highland Avenue resident has installed an estimated 150,000 lights on 11 separate 20 amp circuits and according to users voting in Patch's annual Deck the House contest, Ghinelli's home has the best holiday lights in Wyckoff or Franklin Lakes.
We had tons of entries in this year’s Deck the House contest and in our national quest to find the most remarkable holiday decorations, this 28-year-Wyckoff resident's entry rose to the top.
If he wins, Patch will donate $100,000 to the Wyckoff Public School district.
Ghinelli, 61, said he began the tradition in 2006 when his kids Michael, Victoria, and Kristen — then ages 8, 6 and 4 — "felt our dead-end street was too dark and Santa couldn’t find us."
"I hired a contractor back then but for the past 2 years did most of it myself," Ghinelli said. "I still have the same contractor, Power Wash and Seal of Bergen County, do the house and the higher trees."
This year, Ghinelli began his detailed decorating on July 14, working along the back of the property along Franklin Avenue — an area covered by a small wooded area.
"I wanted to remain inconspicuous else people would think I was crazy hanging Christmas lights in July," Ghinelli said. "Every weekend and some nights when I had the time and the energy and not training for the NYC Marathon (which then was canceled,) I would do a small area and when I got tired I simply stopped. I made myself a promise this was not going to stress me out."
Ghinelli, the president of Total Media Inc., estimated he has spent easily over $20,000 on lights over the years, not including another $10,000 on installing ample circuits for 11 zones of lights and many thousands more to the contractor.
"I am getting to old to climb on the roofs anymore," he said.
Oh, and in December, Ghinelli's said his electric bill shoots up at least $500.
Despite the Griswold-caliber lighting set-up, his neighbors never complain about the lights, he said, and his lights often provide a sense of cheer.
"My neighbors across the street are in their 80s and had to leave in the aftermath of Sandy. They had no heat due to the power outage. Trees are still down on their lawn. When they returned they thanked me for bringing the holiday spirit to our street," Ghinelli said.
His lights go on every day at 4:30 p.m. and off at midnight.
Ghinelli is confident that his lights are bright and creative enough to win the $100,000 cash prize for the Wyckoff Public School District.
"Hopefully I can win the $100,000 prize for the Wyckoff school system," he said. "But whichever school system wins hopefully they will put some of the money towards improving their security and keeping our precious children safe."
We here at Patch loved showcasing everyone’s holiday spirit, but Deck the House isn’t over yet. We’re still looking for the one home so spectacularly decorated that it could be the national grand prize winner of our contest.
We will choose 24 finalists from all our entries across the country. From Dec. 18- Dec. 27, vote for your favorite and that person could win $100,000 for his or her local school district.
All you have to do is visit this page to browse a gallery of the finalists — or use this link to go straight to Ghinelli's house — and cast your vote beginning Dec. 18. On Dec. 28, we’ll announce the grand prize winner of our Deck the House contest.
So, now’s your chance to tell us who has the best “decked” house in the country. Let us know by voting for your favorite beginning Dec. 18.
Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.