EAST BRADFORD — It’s beginning to feel a little bit like Christmas.
While some decorations are up in the stores and the Black Friday ads are already on TV, the Christmas season doesn’t start for many until the Corrado Family hits the switch Thanksgiving night and lights their huge Christmas display.
Cancer survivor Jerry Corrado and his wife, Joan, are blowing up 24 seasonal inflatables at 1102 Nobb Hill Drive. This year they will be lighting up a new 9½-foot-tall Santa, new flashing trees, and some old favorites, including 8½-foot-tall reindeer, dragons, dinosaurs and many elves.
The display has grown every year since the Corrados started putting up lights in 2000. When daughter Amanda Morgera was in college seeking her nursing degree, she mentioned that the pediatric unit at Chester County Hospital could use some toys for sick children.
For the first year, the Corrados collected 250 new toys. Last year, through the display, holiday celebrants to Nobb Hill Drive donated more than 4,000 toys and adult items for Chester County Hospital pediatric unit, and emergency room, patients.
Jerry Corrado was diagnosed with a rare type of acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, six years ago and heard that “everything is fine” after he received a clean bone marrow check on Oct. 27.
When the inflatables aren’t up, Jerry Corrado plays free concerts in his driveway with Yesterday’s News Band. The classic rock cover band regularly performs at area restaurants and bars.
“I’m glad to be alive,” Jerry Corrado said. “The band and the lights keep me going.”
He will tell you he has “aches and pains galore” and his short-term memory isn’t perfect due to the chemotherapy treatments, but Jerry Corrado loves Christmas.
Joan and Jerry pass out candy canes and letters that children can fill out for Santa. They are out every night from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting, and make sure no one trips over more than 500 extension cords and 25 timers.
“Jerry starts talking about Christmas when we’re at the pool,” Joan said, with a smile. “He’s most happy from September through February.
“It keeps him busy.”
Busy is an understatement. Starting during the last week of September, Corrado spends four or five hours per day, seven days per week, for five or six weeks, making sure everything will blow up with air and every light will be lit.
Neighbor Dick Jenkins helps out and said the work time has been cut in half after he started helping four years ago.
“People come from all over,” Jenkins said. “The ultimate satisfaction is when everything lights up and works.”
“Many don’t know the Corrado family by name, but they do know the guy with the Christmas lights.”
Joan said that people the couple doesn’t recognize approach the Corrados when they are out in public and ask if they are the light people off Copeland School Road.
“We meet people and have no idea who they are,” Joan said.
The display is stored in the Corrado’s garage, with just enough room for Joan to park her car, in two sheds, with one new one for the recent additions and in a trailer at a neighbor’s home.
The Corrado home electricity bill jumps $600 between Thanksgiving and Jan. 6.
Rabbit and chipmunk teeth marks are often found on the wires. Jerry said that animals love the copper inside the wires. He uses repellent which sometimes keeps the animals away.
Santa visits some Friday and/or Saturday nights, weather permitting, and the Corrados annually give out thousands of candy canes.
Hospitalized kids love Barbies, games, stuffed toys and especially Legos. Adult patients enjoy word search and adult crossword books, adult coloring books and playing cards. One man even donates 100 Matchbox cars every year. Nurses use donated Amazon gift cards to buy electronic items for teenage patients on extended stays.
Last year, the Corrados were also able to deliver toys to Family Services of Chester County, CHOP Urgent Care and the Chester County Domestic Violence Center.
Donated gift cards let parents whose child is in the NICU or pediatric unit grab something to eat or get gas at Wawa during their child’s stay. Gift cards can also be used to buy a new car seat for when a family’s infant is ready to come home.
Joan gets to Lowe’s and Home Depot at 5:30 a.m. on Black Friday looking for goodies. She is also there when inflatables sometimes go on sale on New Year’s Day.
Former neighbor Bill Pentz constructed a huge custom “JOY” sign which now sits on the Corrado garage roof. He talked about his son’s friend’s hospitalized son who received a gift courtesy of the Corrados.
“This is still a place with community and everybody knows the Corrados,” he said. “We didn’t decorate because we would probably trip the breaker.”
The display runs Thanksgiving through January 6 from dusk to 11p.m. and on weekends until 1 a.m.
The Corrados home at 1102 Nobb Hill Drive is located between Downingtown and West Chester, near Route 322, just off of Copeland School Road.
Source: Berkshire mont