Charitable Holiday Light Tradition Still Going Strong

LANCASTER, N.Y. -- In a development in Lancaster off Walden, homes glow as residents string lights in patterns for show.

But their story isn't about Christmas glory or a decorating dare. Folks here just want to show Stony Brook cares.

"It’s a wonderful feeling, especially for me, to go down the street and see all these people that participate and know they're a part of such a great, wonderful thing,” said Stony Brook Shines for Others founder Jennifer Chomen.

Chomen and her husband Harry said the 9-year-old wintertime charitable event continues to grow every year. Dozens of homes in the nine-street neighborhood take part.

"People kind of upgrade every year. They don't necessarily get rid of what they had last year, but they add to it,” Harry said. “Nice to see people putting arches up across the sidewalks."

Folks who drive or walk through the neighborhood can enjoy a variety of decorations and drop off donations. Since its inception, the event has raised money to benefit a children's charity or foundation. This year, Stony Brook Shines will "Complete A Room With Care" at the new Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo, specifically for teens and children living with Cystic Fibrosis.

"Ten thousand to $12,000 is not a drop in the bucket. There's quite a bit of money in that which they can do special things,” said participant Tony Dittmer.

While most homes shy on the simpler side,  Dittmer has more of a "go big or go home" mentality. He spends 70-80 hours decorating outside.

"I don't expect anyone to try to keep up,” Dittmer laughed. “Usually it adds $150-$170 a month in December and January to my bill, which is well worth it for the charity."

Jennifer said, "We call him Clark Griswold of the neighborhood. He goes all out. Thank goodness for Tony, he put a sign out there. As people check out his house, they donate."

The display will shine brightly until January 2. Donations can also be made through the Stony Brook event website

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