When Wendy Toth and her father Jeff started decorating their house at 2011 Kings Highway East for the Christmas season about two decades ago, they couldn't have imagined that their simple holiday tradition would evolve into a dazzling display that enthralls people from miles away.
The extravaganza began taking shape when Angelus Papageorge married Wendy six years ago. "I got my wife to go out with me by stealing some of the decorations and holding them hostage," he said Saturday as a crowd gathered for this year's "official" lighting. "About four years ago, we started officially lighting up the house, and also collecting toys and food for Toys for Tots and a Bridgeport shelter."
In recent years, as the Toths became the parents of three children, they arranged for Santa to join the festivities, with the support of the Southport Volunteer Fire Department, where Angelus served as chief in the late-1990s. The family also began offering complimentary food and hot beverages to the crowds who came to ogle the decorations.
About 100 people turned up Saturday evening to enjoy the spectacle, which this year features more than 10,000 lights bedecking the house, 12 inflatables, and a shower of tinsel amid other holiday characters.
The Papageorges also set out a collection box through the season for passersby to make charitable donations.