Jimmy Bruno’s legendary holiday display

(Photo by Alen Fetahi)

Joseph’s Drive in the Bishop’s Gate development glitters with ornaments for the holiday season, but one home stands out as a destination.

Jimmy Bruno’s property might be visible from space. The house, trees and driveway are all aglow. Each night, lights illuminate cutout wooden Santas, reindeer, elves, characters from “A Christmas Carol,” families of small animals and a holiday village. Santa, with Mrs. Santa, an elf and a sleigh with reindeer hold a prominent position near the entry flanked by the traditional guards in their red uniforms.

Bruno, a developer and town councilman, isn’t sure how many lights go into the display. “Two years ago, when I converted to LEDs, I wiped out every Lowe’s and Home Depot from Albany to just south of Newburgh,” he said.

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Bruno has been creating holiday displays since 1962, when he was nine years old. “My grandmother gave me some old lights from the 1940s, and they kept blowing fuses. My father was mad because he wanted to watch football.”

Power is no longer a concern. Last year, Bruno installed 18 20-ampere lines outside the house to support the lights in his display.

He starts work on the project in October. “I have sometimes worked until one or two o’clock in the morning on the decorations,” said Bruno.

The decorative houses that line the roadway through Bruno’s property are based on designs from Sherwood Prints, a Canadian company. Bruno buys the prints, then cuts them and uses them as stencils to guide painting the miniature houses and other decorations. “Each one takes about 40 hours,” he said. The underlying material is MDO (medium density overlay) board, a waterproof plywood. He buys the panels from Saugerties Lumber at a discount.

While Bruno does the cutting and painting of all the decorations on his property, he had praise for the help he gets in the form of discounts on materials and in presentation. He gets steel he needs for some of his structures at a discount from Benson Steel, the use of a lift from Anthony Montano at a discount, and discount materials from Smith Hardware.

When the holiday season is over, Bruno stores all the decorations in his barn, and each piece is labeled. The storage and labeling are so clear that “if I got sick, you could put it up for me,” he said.

Ray Mayone will be offering rides with his draft horses and wagon on Friday evening, Dec. 13. Tickets for the rides are available at Cahill Elementary School, Bruno said. They are not available at his home, as they are usually gone before his home opening.

How much does all this cost? Bruno does not keep track of how much he spends on the display; it is a labor of love stretched over the course of a year, and he buys materials as needed, he said.

While Christmas is Bruno’s major holiday project, “I also decorate for Halloween and Easter, but not as much,” Bruno said.

Bruno’s wife, Kathleen, is also enthusiastic about Christmas, and this helps because she puts up with a lot, he said. She has played the part of Mrs. Claus in the past, and will be doing it again this year.

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