King of the Kilowatt
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS The Fabrizio house in Brockton is a holiday showcase of 62,000 lights, seen here Wednesday night.
Frank Fabrizio is Tamaqua area's undisputed King of the Kilowatt.
The 50-year-old Brockton man started decorating with outdoor lights at age 14 and never stopped.
Back in the early days, Fabrizio was an assistant. He helped his dad with holiday decorating at their ranch house, 402 Green St., just off US209, six miles west of Tamaqua.
His father, Francis Fabrizio, was a hard-working employee of Parish Steel Manufacturing Co., Reading, and the two were very close. Fabrizio enjoyed working alongside his father.
"Dad would put red lights around the roof," says Fabrizio.
Eventually, Fabrizio added his own touch to dad's project and a tradition started.
Sadly, the elder Fabrizio passed away in January, 2008, but not before he saw his son earn accolades far and wide for excellence in decorative outdoor lighting.
Fabrizio tackles his yearly project with passion and his family home has been featured in newspapers and magazines.
A 1999 TIMES NEWS story about Fabrizio's Christmas display was picked up by the AP and appeared across the country and overseas, drawing the attention of NBC's DATELINE television show in 2002.
Fabrizio, a self-employed videographer, is a 1981 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School and self taught in the area of special effects.
His display includes laser lights, synchronized music and lots of movement. It bubbles with brilliance. It moves, flickers, glitters, sparkles and is the No. 1 seasonal tourist attraction in Schuylkill Township.
A life-size teddy bear carousel commands attention. But that's only the beginning. There's a Ferris wheel that actually moves, an American flag in red, white and blue lights and a Santa workshop that twinkles.
The panorama is totally interactive, meaning that to get the most out of it, you need to get out of your car and walk through a carefully laid out maze.
Onlookers look in awe at a brilliant "Merry Christmas" sign, toy soldiers, and then take a walk through Toyland. There's also a 16-foot Christmas tree with cascading lights, a fountain in motion lights, dolls, wishing well, lighthouse, and just about every popular cartoon character one can think of.
If that's not enough, there are skating penguins that actually skate and other jumbo-sized creations.
"I change the display every year. It looks different each time," Fabrizio notes.
But one thing stays the same. Fabrizio still puts red lights around the roof in honor of his dad.
It's difficult for Fabrizio to estimate the man-hours devoted to creating the display or in setting it up each year. He's helped by his mother Theresa, of Brockton, brother Tom and wife Wendy, their children Matt and Dylan, of Schuylkill Haven, plus friend Ray Speck of Mary D.
The display is controlled by 17 circuit breakers. There also are 8,000 ground lights positioned to heighten the visual impact. The lights add some $200 per month to the Fabrizio electric bill. In addition, improvements to the computer system this year added another $3,000. Fabrizio says one-half of the display is computer controlled.
The Fabrizio house sits atop a knoll, giving motorists a perfect view as they turn onto the Brockton exit from US209.
The dazzling display has attracted thousands to Brockton each year, and the Fabrizio house anchors the town's annual Arrival of Santa parade. There is no charge to see the extravaganza, but many show appreciation by dropping quarters or dollars into a Make-A-Wish bucket. The display has raised thousands for charity since 1987.
Fabrizio says he begins decorating almost three months in advance of the holiday season. He also finds time to create the holiday lighting at Tamaqua Depot Square Park and at the annual Dec. 31 Eagle Rise event at the ABC Tamaqua High Rise, the area's largest New Year's Eve celebration.
Fabrizio's Brockton display was turned on for the season on Thanksgiving night and can be seen from 5:30-9 p.m. every evening until Dec. 30.