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A walk among the lights

Family’s holiday display features interactive walkthrough

The Viola family expanded its traditional holiday setup by creating an interactive walk-through light display that features more than 75 inflatables. Lights on Lantern will be on display throughout December. (Special to The Sun)

The Viola family in Cherry Hill has decked out its lawn for the holidays in the last 17 years by putting on a light display, Lights on Lantern, as part of its traditions.

The family of five – Michael Sr.; his wife Cathy; and their kids, Michael Jr., Matt, and Melissa – began putting up decorations the weekend before Thanksgiving and finished with upwards of 75 inflatables around the yard. As their collection has grown over the years, so has its following.

“People have come back every year, and they always love picking out what is the newest thing,”  said Michael Jr., known as Mike. 

After receiving several new pieces from a resident whose decorations were retired, the Violas  decided to create an interactive walk-through of their whole collection.

“We incorporated our swing set, our trampoline, we made it more like an ocean theme, so we have blue lights all around the trampoline,” said Mike. “We got Santa in a hula skirt: It’s very cool.

“We have pieces that you see in other places, but we also have original pieces that you will not find anywhere else,” he added. 

What started with one inflatable snowman 17 years ago has grown into something much larger, and a lot of thought goes into how to arrange the display.

“(From) day one, we were planning out what was going to go where, because it takes a lot,” Mike explained. “You can’t  just stick things wherever you want, it’s got to have some kind of flow to it and it’s got to go with the layout.

“We’ve always done more of a Santa side and a snowman side,” he added. “Over the years,  we’ve basically evolved and we’ve added Disney pieces we put towards the front. And we’ve had to retire some pieces that we’ve put towards the back. 

“Now that we have a walk-through, every piece can be seen.”

This year’s display features several new pieces, including a gingerbread display and a candy cane archway featuring a talking Santa.

“I always think about the engineers who create these designs, and I’d be fascinated to know what goes into thinking and planning,” Mike noted.

The display will continue through December. For viewing, contact Michael Viola on Facebook or message lights_on_lantern on Instagram for the address.


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