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Some people are putting up holiday lights to spread cheer during the coronavirus outbreak

Because what else is there to do?

The Griffin family, in Cumberland, Rhode Island, put up Christmas lights to spread joy during the coronavirus pandemic.Holly Griffin (custom credit)

'Twas the first week of quarantine and all through their homes, many people were stirring, with no place to go.

The outlook’s been ominous, with no end in sight; so they’ve started a movement: switching on Christmas lights.

Dennis Condon joined too, with a goal in his mind: Bring cheer to his neighbors during such stressful times.

“I’ve got my lights up,” Condon, chief of the Needham Fire Department, tweeted Thursday night. “Smile and wash your hands. We can do this folks!”

Condon is one of many people across the country who in recent days have become so burned out by the sudden threat of the novel coronavirus and its rippling impacts on our normal way of life, that he had to do something — anything, really — to inject a bit of positivity into the world and remind people that the darkness precedes the dawn.

“Anywhere that we can find little pieces of happiness among all this disaster that’s going on is a good thing, and we should try to do this as much as we can,” said Condon’s 28-year-old daughter, Kelly, who shared her father’s picture on Twitter after he sent it to the family in a group text this week. “We have to do this all together, and support each other through everything.”


The concept of Christmas in March has apparently caught on, with people from Florida to California to Tennessee saying they’ve strung up lights either outside or in their homes. In some cases, Christmas trees have reportedly reemerged from basements and garages. Many homebound people have been attempting to fuel the coronavirus-motivated idea using the hashtags #CoronaChristmas, #CoronaKindness, and #LightsforLife.

People in some communities around New England have also been using private Facebook groups to try to organize and inspire their neighbors to join in.


The intent, it seems, is twofold: to light up the night so people are reminded of a more joyous time of year, and to give families with small children an extra activity to take part in, since parks and playgrounds and play dates are now off the table.

“This is a nice opportunity where families can get in the car and not have to directly be in contact with anyone else and drive around with their kids to look at the lights,” Kelly Condon said. “[It’s] a bit of joy in a time where we are trying to make sense of all this and find some happiness.”

One of the more prominent examples of lights being turned on to spark joy came from a family in Cumberland, R.I.

Holly Griffin said her 10-year-old son, Liam, asked this week if they could restring some lights on the tree outside of their home.

“He was looking out the window and said to my husband, ‘Dad, can we turn the lights on?’ and he was like, ‘Ya, that’s a good idea,'" said Griffin. “We thought it was a bright spot in the darkness. I think it’s important for people to not lose hope.”

Her husband, Mike, tweeted images of the tree and of Liam looking out the window at the lights. It inspired others to follow suit, he said.


“I’ve received messages from two people in California, a person in Tennessee, a person in Louisiana, Australia, and one from England saying they put lights up,” he said.

Holly Griffin said that in a private Facebook group for their community, residents have been sharing their own pictures of light displays.

On Friday, Mayor Jeff Mutter of Cumberland took to social media to publicly thank the family for spreading joy during this unprecedented event, one that has been full of uncertainty and kept people at a distance.

“Even when we can’t physically stand with each other we can show up for each other,” Mutter wrote. “All of this to say: Hope is in fact, heroic.”

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.