The Chartridge community is giving Clark Griswold a run for his money this holiday season. For years, Chartridge residents Ryan Scott, Jim Miller, Owen Cleary and Brian Ballard have decorated the community pool and surrounding areas to create a Winter Wonderland area for neighborhood children.
“We just want to make it fun for the kids,” Scott said. We all have kids and we wanted to be like Clark Griswold, I guess.”
Scott estimated that 60,000 lights are strung up in the Winter Wonderland each year. The entire display takes months to put together. The group works for a few hours every night on the weekends to arrange the display. While the occasional strand of lights will go out, they have been lucky for the most part.
“We haven’t had any huge problems,” Scott said. “If we have some that go out; we just change them out or find whatever bulb is broken.”
The Winter Wonderland is the main display, but the group also brings Santa Claus through the neighborhood in a sleigh on December 23. Santa sets up a workshop to take photos with children and a mailbox for letters. There is also a house decorating contest throughout the neighborhood.
Scott said that Christmas isn’t celebrated like it used to be, so the goal is to bring back the holiday spirit. The Winter Wonderland has definitely increased Christmas spirit in Chartridge.
“Each season we have a big event, and the community gets really involved,” Scott said. “They used to do caroling in the winter and then we came up with this, and we thought we’d start doing something really cool. It is definitely the kids’ favorite, and I think the parents like it too.”
This year, Santa will still be available for photos on December 23, but time slots are required, and families will stand in front of Santa to remain socially distant. Though the festivities may be different year, the goal remains the same: to create a memorable experience for the neighborhood children.
The Winter Wonderland will be lit every night through the middle of January. Scott encourages people from around Severna Park to check out their hard work, especially this year when everyone could use a little extra cheer.