The Smalls’ friends and neighbors gather to help decorate their house for the holidays last Saturday. Contributed / Photo by Fred J. Field

Each holiday season, George and Carolyn Small’s red house on Tuttle Road glows with a colorful light display that delights their neighbors. Their yard is dotted with reindeer and a Nativity scene stands by the front door.

After George, 83, had a recent health scare, he and Carolyn, 80, were afraid they wouldn’t be able to deck their house out for Christmas this year. It just wouldn’t be safe for George to be climbing on ladders.

Volunteers work to get the Small house, with its attached model train repair shop, ready for the holidays in Cumberland. Sydney Richelieu / The Forecaster

That’s when their lifelong friend and fellow Cumberland resident Julie Casey Otte stepped up.

“They didn’t get the Halloween lights up, and I knew that George was in the hospital,” Otte said. “I didn’t want to miss the Christmas lights.”

Through a community forum on Facebook, she organized a decorating party for the Small house. The response was immediate and enthusiastic.

Led by the Smalls’ grandsons, Jordan and Jackson Small, at least 50 friends, family members and neighbors gathered last Saturday to decorate the house as it has been traditionally trimmed.


“We appreciate the support from everyone,” Jackson Small said as the volunteers gathered.

Volunteers who couldn’t stay to help dropped off coffee cakes and other baked goods for the others. Money was donated so the whole team could have coffee.

The outpouring of support for the Smalls did not surprise Otte.

“It made me very happy. They’re such wonderful people,” she said. “They are the salt of the earth.”

The Smalls are grateful.  “It’s so wonderful,” Carolyn Small said.

With the red house aglow again for the holiday season, friends and neighbors have already enjoyed driving by the lights in the evening. Some, like Otte, take their grandchildren with them.

“It’s quite the display,” she said.

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