Story by Jennifer O’Connor
On the dark, cold and crisp evening of Fri., Dec. 9, the Whalen family pulled their car into the driveway and suddenly received an unexpected surprise. The entire front yard and outside of the home they moved into three months ago at 50 Park Drive in Warwick was beautifully decorated and lit up with an amazing display of colorful lights.
Everything looked spectacular with red, green, blue and orange lights wrapped around the trees, wreaths donned with lights hanging on windows, and the brightly lit roof. Most special of all is the light display of an American flag on the roof.
Ann Whalen, her husband, Bryan, and their two sons, Sean, 5, and Jack, 3, stood in awe looking at their home as family and friends came out from their hiding place at the side of the house. Unbeknownst to the Whalen family, Ann’s sister, Mary Wholey, nominated them for the Decorated Family Program, which they were selected as the winner of the contest.
The national program was created by Christmas Decor as a way to thank those who have served their Country. Bryan served in the United States Marine Corp and was sent to Iraq for a year. After he was Honorably Discharged, he enlisted in the United States Army. A few months after his first son, Sean, was born he was deployed to Afghanistan.
“It was a complete surprise,” said Bryan. “The crew kept thanking me for my service to our Country, but I felt more grateful to them for now having a free Saturday to spend with my family instead of putting up Christmas lights.”
“What Bryan has done for both his country and his family – that’s a sacrifice,” said Jim Mink, owner of Christmas Decor by Precision Sprinklers and Lighting. “For us it is nothing. We have decorated hundreds of homes and businesses so to give back a little bit it’s really a pleasure.”
Mink, who has been in the business for 20 years, and his crew of six men, decorated the Whalen house in about three hours. Bryan and Ann thanked Jim and his crew who worked in frigid temperatures. For the Whalen family this was the surprise of a lifetime and truly something they felt grateful to receive.
“What a wonderful surprise it was to come home and see the house decorated so spectacularly. It’s really touching to know that the folks at Christmas Decor acknowledge the sacrifices members of the service and their family make. We are incredibly grateful for the hard work put in by Jim and his team at Precision Sprinklers and Lighting. They really have made this Christmas season even more joyous for our family,” said Ann.
For neighbors of the Whalen’s that gathered outside, they truly delighted in watching the family receive such a special and well-deserved gift this Christmas season. One neighbor jokingly said, “We’ll get to enjoy the lights more than the Whalens. We live across the street and can view the display from our windows and inside the comfort of our home.”
The joy of Christmas and the gift of giving is what this season is all about and was strongly felt in the Town of Warwick.