Let there be light: Easthampton man welcomes public with a dazzling display of holiday lighting 

  • Felix Losito, Hannah Kielbania, and Noah Kielbania wander beneath lit-up arches at the Winter Wonderland installation on John Losito’s property in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Gregg Markel of West Springfield, a friend of John Losito, has helped Losito put together his lighting installation, which was started almost 20 years ago. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • John Losito opened his Winter Wonderland installation on his property in Easthampton for public visits Dec. 10. It will remain open through Jan. 1. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • John Losito says he’s a “DYI kind of guy,” which prompted him to design his extensive lighting installation on his property in Easthampton. He began building it almost 20 years ago. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • John Losito walks along a section of the lit-up trail in his Winter Wonderland installation on his property in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • John Losito and Gregg Markel staff their makeshift concession stand, which offers popcorn and hot chocolate, at Losito’s Winter Wonderland light installation in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Is that Santa in the woods? John Losito walks along a section of trail in his Winter Wonderland installation in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • John Losito has been lighting up the trail through his Easthampton property for nearly two decades. He’s opened it this month for extensive public visits in part to give people some relief from COVID concerns. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Dan Gelbtuch and his daughter Hannah Madsen Gelbtuch, of Boston, walk through John Losito’s Winter Wonderland installation in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Losito has placed a wide array of decorative items, like this tree-borne disco ball, in his Winter Wonderland installation in Easthampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Leah Madsen, Dan Gelbtuch, and their children, Jesse and Hannah Madsen Gelbtuch, of Boston, admire a Christmas Tree in John Losito’s Winter Wonderland installation. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Five-year-old Hannah Madsen Gelbtuch inspects a “Christmas Crane” while exploring John Losito’s Winter Wonderland installation in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • John Losito has been lighting up the trails on his Easthampton property for nearly two decades and this month has opened it for extensive public visits. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • A dazzling array of Christmas lights illuminate the Winter Wonderland trails on John Losito’s property in Easthampton. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

Staff Writer
Published: 12/28/2021 3:50:49 PM

EASTHAMPTON — John Losito recalls that Christmas lights at his home were a big deal when he was a kid. His family really liked to light up their place, and Losito caught the bug himself. As a teenager, he did the lighting one year and won third place, in a contest sponsored by WAQY-FM/Rock 102 in Springfield, for best Christmas decorations.

“I was fortunate that my parents indulged me like that,” he said with a laugh.

Today, Losito is continuing that tradition on his own property, at the intersection of Strong and Plain streets, where a wide range of lighting — colored and plain, moving and stationary — lines footpaths that snake for over a quarter of a mile through woods on the grounds.

This “Winter Wonderland,” as Losito calls it, is not new; he says he began decorating the property with lights almost 20 years ago.

But for a good part of these last few months of 2021, after nearly two years of life dominated by COVID-19, he’s opened up his property for nighttime public visits, both to celebrate the holidays and offer people some fresh-air relief from the pandemic.

“I like the community aspect of it,” said Losito, a musician and property manager who has also “worked in the trades,” as he puts it, doing electrical work, plumbing, and building renovation. “Here you can get outside, take a walk, enjoy the lights.”

With the help of friends like Gregg Markel, of West Springfield, Losito has strung lights of varying sizes along lengthy footpaths around the property — it was formerly a small horse farm, he says, and the paths were used by horses and riders — and added many others in trees and other places along the way.

There’s plenty of razzle-dazzle here. In one spot, the image of a rotating Santa Claus is projected onto the ground; in another section, an image of a Christmas tree also rotates on the ground. Lights shaped into candy canes line one section of the walk; Santa Claus and snowman figures also can be found, as well as a brilliant Christmas tree with lit-up “presents” beneath it.

Markel, who along with Losito was serving hot chocolate to visitors on a recent evening, says the operation started with a smaller footprint.

“At first it was just open a couple nights a year for friends and family. But word got around, and more people were interested in visiting.”

Losito says he began opening his property to the public, for one night close to Christmas, several years ago; then he did it for two nights last December. “We got a really big response to that,” he said. “People were asking on social media if we could expand it, so I thought ‘Why not?’ ”

He opened for three nights around Halloween in October and then reopened around Dec. 10. The display will be open through New Year’s Day.

Easthampton officials have made it easier for him to accommodate more visitors by allowing him to extend one part of his lighted trail a bit onto city land, where people who park at the nearby Plain and Strong Street Playground can access the lighted paths.

“I’m grateful they let me do that,” said Losito.

He’s hard-pressed to say how many lights he’s installed over time. “I think it’s well over 50,000,” said Losito, who notes that the lights are kept out year-round, in all kinds of weather. “They’ve held out pretty well so far.”

Markel said he and Losito don’t keep a head count of visitors, but he guesses over 100 people showed up on Christmas Eve. And, Markel added, the two of them have plans to add lights to several more trees in the future.

On a recent evening, a family from Boston was making its way over the lighted paths, slippery in places from the rain and snow that fell on Christmas Day. Another visitor, John Conyers of Holyoke, said he’d heard of Losito’s Winter Wonderland from a friend who had visited it and wanted to check it out himself.

“(Losito) has put an incredible amount of work into this,” he said, as he walked along with his girlfriend, Amy Walsh. “It’s really impressive.”

Aside from giving visitors an interesting place to walk, Losito simply gets a kick out of designing a light show on his property, which includes an air b&b that he built by renovating an old barn, which the previous property owners had used for their horses. He sees the decorative lighting as a creative outlet, like playing music.

“I’m a DIY kind of person,” he said. “I liken this to painting in the woods. And the nights when we’re open, it gives me a good excuse to hang out from 5 to 8 p.m. with people and serve hot chocolate.”

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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