Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow aren’t the only ones familiar with the National Chain Group’s holiday light display. The iconic display of twinkle lights and figurines viewable from Rt. 95 in Warwick has been an annual tradition at the precious metal retailer and wholesaler for 39 consecutive years.
Former president Ralph Cipolla, who now serves on National Chain’s Board of Directors, started the display in 1973. His son, Steve, the current president of National Chain, has continued the legacy in recent years.
This year, National Chain Group estimates there are 25,000 lights in the display, the largest number to date. To be more energy efficient, 90 percent of the lights this year are LED, which shine brighter but require less energy.
Debora Tatangelo from the production department of National Chain once again stepped forward to direct the creation of the display. Tatangelo has worked at National Chain for about 14 years and has spent the past seven helping with the iconic spectacle. This year, they’ve added new lights to the National Chain building that cycle through various pre-programmed sequences – it’s Tatangelo’s favorite part.
Though Tantangelo is the creative mind behind this year’s display, she didn’t do it all alone. Although she said she just “winged it” when it came to the layout of the lights and figurines, a staff of 15 people helped her set everything up. Staff members sign up to help construct the display, but everyone gets paid for their time.
The display takes about six weeks to set up, and employees began securing the lights and figurines to the lawn at the National Chain building in early October.
This year’s collection of classic Christmas characters and glowing lights was lit for the first time on Thanksgiving eve and will shine from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. nightly through Jan. 1. The lights and figures occupy about three-quarters of an acre of land, but National Chain won’t tell how much it costs to keep the 25,000 lights burning bright.
“It’s a company secret,” said National Chain spokesman, Vincent Ferrante. “It’s a considerable cost.”
For Tatangelo, working on the display has become a holiday tradition.
“So many people look forward to it every year,” she said.
National Chain is located at 55 Access Road in Warwick, and the display is open to visitors. It can be seen along the northbound side of Route 95 in Warwick.