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First Person

Christmas decorating done big

For 13 years, Saugus resident Michael Conlon has entertained thousands driving by his spectacularly illuminated house on Lynn Fells Parkway.

“I’m known for doing nothing small,” says Michael Conlon, who runs his own security firm.

Alex Gagne

“I’m known for doing nothing small,” says Michael Conlon, who runs his own security firm.

I do large displays for six holidays — Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Christmas. HALLOWEEN AND CHRISTMAS ARE THE BIGGEST. I started doing this 28 years ago. The first December, I decorated our landlord’s house in Winthrop. That was in the days of big, heavy light bulbs, a nightmare to maintain. The majority of lights now are LED and a lot stronger.

We have MORE THAN 100,000 LIGHTS. Uncountable. The biggest challenge is getting the Halloween lights down and Christmas lights up in a two- to three-week turnaround. We bring in about five to six people every year to help.

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The Christmas lights are on from early December to after January 1. THE NEIGHBORS ARE PRETTY GOOD ABOUT IT. We decorate all over — the roof, backyard, garage, front of the house, front yard. I store things in my shed, plus a separate storage area. My electric bill varies year to year.

It was never planned to be this big. I keep buying more, plus have the old stuff. Then YOU GET NEW IDEAS, and it expands. My wife, Patricia, has gotten used to it. She helps decorate inside the house. We used to have eight differently themed Christmas trees inside, but now just two to three.

Over the years, we’ve had several thousand visitors. At 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we attract hundreds with a half-hour ceremony. We bring Baby Jesus out to our creche. There’s four to five Victorian holiday carolers singing. We have a seating area for family and close friends and four big speakers so the public can hear. SANTA CLAUS GIVES OUT CANDY CANES on the Friday before Christmas. We take donations for Boston Children’s Hospital.  — As told to Kathy Shiels Tully

Interview has been edited and condensed.

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