AMESBURY — Each December since 2007, John and Deb Edmands have transformed their Old County Road home into a Christmas spectacle, decorating their house with over 40,000 lights to put on a half-hour show choreographed to music every night starting at 7.
As the show has grown over the years, so have the crowds, and ever since the beginning the Edmandses have encouraged guests to bring unwrapped toys or cash donations with them to benefit Toys for Tots.
Last year was particularly fruitful, as the family collected over 600 toys and over $1,000 in donations, making the Edmandses the Haverhill Chapter of the Marine Corps Reserves’ largest contributor. This year, however, donations have been way down, they said.
“Toy-wise we’re way down from last year, way off,” said John Edmands. “We are so far behind last year it’s not even funny. It’s still been mild, last night the crowds weren’t too bad, but it’s still way off from last year.”
Edmands couldn’t point to a particular reason why donations were down, other than the fact that 2011 was an especially good year, but he said his hope was that reaching out to the community might help.
Over the years, the Edmandses’ light show has become something of a Christmas tradition for many in town. Edmands said every night there will be people who are seeing it for the first time, along with people who come back every year, or even every week.
The crowds typically grow larger as Christmas approaches, with the Saturday before the holiday typically being the biggest draw. Edmands estimated that there are usually 300 to 400 people out in front of his house that day.
While the show is going on, he will stand out front to make sure cars don’t stop, watch and block the road. He also put up no parking signs on the other side of the street to make sure people parked on his side only, keeping a protective barrier between passing cars and his guests while also allowing for a free lane of traffic.