A Winter Wonderland in a Corner of Queens

Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

Every winter, Mike Giglio, a retired Local 376 Construction Laborer, decorates his home for the holidays to create a winter wonderland at 102-24 Rau Court in Hamilton Beach near 102 Street, near Howard Beach in Queens.

“I’ve been doing this for about 37 years,” said Giglio. Since retiring in July, he relies on friends to help starting Nov. 1 to build the holiday display.

“As a kid I begged my dad to put lights on our house in Richmond Hill so Santa would find us,” he said.

Now in his 60s, Giglio looks back at the attraction he’s built that has drawn celebrities like piano man Billy Joel and his daughter, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and local families.

At one point, just like the Rockettes at Radio City Musical Hall, the exhibit featured high kicking dancers from a local studio. He said, “It was magnificent.”

Giglio said in 2012 Superstorm Sandy destroyed the house, flooding the basement and wiping out his possessions including a prized 4,000 foot train set.

Now that he’s rebuilt his home, Giglio said, the show must go on.

Holiday music plays from 9 a.m and the display is lit up from Dec. 1 to Dec 31 from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 6:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

With more than 80,000 lights, a nativity scene, singing angels, Frosty the Snowman, Disney’s Mickey, Minnie and Donald Duck, two 7-foot drummers, toy soldiers, colorful candy canes, and a North Pole sign pointing visitors to see Santa and his reindeer, it’s a spectacular wonderland for the small Queens neighborhood.

“Every year I ask myself what else I can add to make this bigger and better,” Giglio said. “I love to see the faces, the kids go crazy. I do it for the community. People’s mouths drop open in amazement and that makes it all worth it.”

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