The home of Jason Wade and Ed Bussiere shines bright in the woods of Wentworth during the holiday season. (Matthew Perloff) (click for larger version)
December 21, 2011WENTWORTH— Auguste Road, a dirt drive deep in the woods of Wentworth, isn't the first place people would think to go to see one of the most elaborate lighting displays this holiday season, yet one house in the area strives to put the middle of nowhere on the map.
Night or day, there's no missing the home of Jason Wade and Ed Bussiere, from its candy cane walkway, illuminated statues and countless lights welcoming guests and the curious alike. One side of the house features an army of inflatable snowmen, Santas and other winter wonderland regulars, while visitors rounding the other side are greeted by a display of trees, lights and statues illuminated to the tune of holiday classics, and an elaborate entranceway which provides just a taste of what's to come inside.
These dedicated displays are nothing new for Wade and Bussiere.
"We both started seperately," said Bussiere. "He did it as a kid, I did it as a kid, and when we grew up and ended up meeting, it obviously got combined into what it is today."
Today, the duo's efforts spare as little of the home's three floors as they do the yard, as decorations spread the festive atmosphere from top to bottom. Each tree is decked out in its own theme, from old-fashioned (complete with bubble lights, classic signs and record player), to elaborate to gingerbread and Coca-Cola trees, among others. Even the dining room table is complete with Christmas-themed dinnerware, while the chandelier is yet another tree, illuminating the display from its upside-down perch. The displays come to life with animatronic elves, while out on the porch, a life-size reindeer awaits visitors by the antique sleigh.
The final product is two to three months of dedicated effort by Wade and Bussiere, piecing together their vast display – large enough to fill the storage shed in their backyard and requiring numerous remotes — between the criss-crossing hours of their jobs.
Three of the many trees in Jason Wade and Ed Bussiere’s home: the old-fashioned tree (left), the elegant tree (right) and the upside-down gingerbread tree (center). (Matthew Perloff) (click for larger version)
The trees were the greatest undertaking, according to Wade, with more than a dozen fully-decorated trees inside and out, the most elaborate taking 2-3 days for the duo to set up and decorate.
"We have it pretty much already planned out," said Bussiere. "Everything's logged in a book. It's all in a box, and the boxes are numbered, so we know right where everything goes when we take the box out, so it's not that difficult."
Wade and Bussiere's combined efforts began 15 years ago, while living in Florida. Though both had produced grand displays on their own, their combined passion, skill and collections brought a whole new level to what they could create. Their home in Sunrise, Fla. featured more than a half-million lights, along with dozens of statues, inflatables, trains, trees and other Christmas décor.
"I had people come by the house every night, because there was so much to see," said Wade.
A lighting ceremony and potluck dinner the day after Thanksgiving would draw hundreds to the home, and Wade estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors came to the house each year, which they opened to the public from Thanksgiving until New Year's. Already a popular attraction, it achieved national attention in 2002 when featured by Al Roker on the Today Show as one of the best-decorated homes in the country.
As owners of a Christmas store, their efforts branched out into producing displays for shopping centers and businesses and working on the homes of others, even decorating the home of Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain, among other high profile clients.
"We were decorating and consulting," said Wade. "They called year after year for us to do it."
"We did it for our neighbors…before we left, their houses were getting up there too," said Bussiere. "Thinking back now, how many people we decorated for, I never realized."
Wade and Bussiere moved to Plymouth in 2005, and aimed to continue their annual displays here, but tragedy struck as Bussiere's son, Anthony, was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly before Christmas. Their display went dark as they instead traveled to Florida, and was immediately boxed up upon returning. It was their only attempt before moving to Wentworth.
"We didn't know if we were ever going to do it again," said Bussiere. "Then, a couple years later, all our family came up here, so we decided to do up a big one, and we did it in this house."
Wade and Bussiere traveled to Florida for Christmas in the years since, but circumstances kept them in New Hampshire this holiday season, and decided not to let the opportunity pass.
"For me, it hasn't been the same since my son got killed, but I try to move on. I did move on," said Bussiere. "I'm not going to let it hold me back. I still enjoy the lights, the enjoyment people get out of it, but it's a big reminder for me."
Though the smaller home and erratic New Hampshire weather doesn't allow for the same grand displays as they produced in Florida – Bussiere estimates about 65-70 percent of what they used there has gone into their Wentworth house – their efforts still shine through and rekindle the spirit of an annual undertaking that brought awe and joy to thousands.
"The best thing is the enjoyment that it brings other people," said Wade. "As soon as this is all wrapped up, we're going to have our friends come and tour the place, and that's the joy I get out of it, seeing the reaction is on their faces."
"There's a lot we could do to this property," said Bussiere. "It would be phenomenal."
Wade and Bussiere plan to keep their display up through New Year's, and welcome visitors to come and see the brilliant outdoor display in the meantime. Their house is located on Auguste Road, about three miles from Route 25 in Wentworth; take Sand Hill Road and continue left onto Buffalo Road for two miles before turning right onto Zoe Road, then another right a half-mile later onto Auguste.