Behind the Leicester Christmas Display: Take 5 with Scott and Denise Weikel

Amanda Collins Bernier
Baystateparent Magazine
Scott and Denise Weikel outside their Waite Street in Leicester.

Thirty years ago, when they were newlyweds celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple, Scott and Denise Weikel put two little soldiers in front of their Leicester home to decorate for the holidays.

With each season, they'd add a little something; their display growing bigger and brighter as the years went by. Revelers would come from near and far to take in the lights and cheer.  

By 2015, their holiday display was so large -- and so popular -- a police detail was needed to corral the more than 3,000 visitors who would show up at the Weikels on a Saturday night.

After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the Leicester Christmas Display is back. Scott and Denise began setting up in October, arranging over 200 holiday inflatables, a rainbow of colored Christmas trees, and stringing more than 50,000 Christmas lights at their residence at 25 Waite Street. The walk-through experience will offer visits with Santa, and is free and open to the public through Christmas (weather permitting, check their Facebook page). A registered non-profit, they accept donations which go back into the local community. 

We caught up with the couple while they prepared for the festivities. 

An aerial view of the Leicester Christmas Display.

How did the Leicester Christmas Display become what it is? 

Denise: Every year we just added and added. My birthday is November 29 and he started getting me decorations for my birthday, and... well, this is what happened. 

Scott: One thing just led to another. I'll be honest, in the beginning I used to say 'shut those things off, the electric bill!' But then I saw how much people liked it so we did it more and more and more. I don't do anything in my life halfway. About five years ago I said, 'I'm going to do the backyard.' Nobody believed me. And now the whole backyard is filled. We have an electrical service I brought in just for the Christmas display, and we have to use some generators. 

How do you make it all happen?

Scott: The display itself is funded by us. We fundraise for the police detail, and we also put out a small donation box. It's free to come in, but in that donation box, by the end of the year, we'll raise $13,000 for local charities -- we keep it local. All year round we're then able to help people who are down on their luck. The charity end of it is really important to me.

Are there days during the holiday season when you're not feeling up to having 3,000 people at your house?

Scott: It can be draining mentally and physically. I don't eat supper until 10 o'clock every night, and all of it does get a little stressful. But when it all comes on and the little kids are having fun, it makes it all worth it. It has its pros and its cons, but I'm not complaining. It's something we choose to do. 

Is there a particular part of the display that's your favorite?

Scott: A couple years after Christmas we were getting white Christmas trees. We painted them each a color -- every type of cancer has a color -- and we call them 'cancer trees.' We put them out and we supply ornaments for survivors of cancer or loved ones who've passed away and that is one of the biggest hits down here. 

Have you ever thought about entering a holiday decorating competition?

Scott: I don't enter house competitions. I was in contact with the Great Christmas Light Fight [television show], but for a couple different reasons we passed on going on the show. I don't like to judge and I never want to someone to say 'it's not as good as yours." I wish everybody would put out a couple strands of lights.