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Ten Minutes with Ron Merriman

The creator of the Torrington Christmas House



Photo by Wendy Carlson

Ron Merriman had a hard life with his father, who hated all things Christmas, which is what drove him to create his now nationally famous Torrington Christmas House: he fills every square inch of his three-story blue house at 287 Main Street with 135,000 colored lights, animatronic Santas, snowmen, reindeer, and endless other kitsch, for the 20,000 people who visit each year. He talks at warp speed, but beneath the curmudgeon facade is a good-hearted guy.

What drove you to create this amazing place?
My father was mean. When I was 17, growing up in Harwinton, I put up a Christmas tree, and he didn’t want nothing to do with it. He busted up the tree and threw it out. I’d make a little nativity scene in my bedroom, where my father couldn’t mess with it. In my 20s I went to the Festival of Lights in Hartford with my girlfriend. That blew my mind. I knew I wanted to do something like that, I knew I wanted to go all out and celebrate like my father wouldn’t allow.

How did you start, and then how did it evolve into what it is today?
I bought this house and did my first public display in 1982. It was a five-foot Christmas tree and a nativity scene. Then I started really collecting. Flea markets, tag sales. Every year, day after Christmas, I go to stores for the sales. I get lights for 40 cents a box. But this antique stuff you can’t buy no more: the old bubbler lights, the vintage Santas from the 1950s, the Biedermeier ornaments, the Steinbach nutcrackers. I’ve got over 1,000 pieces now.    

Do you live there year-round?
Yes, with my mother and sister. I’ve usually got the giant Uncle Sam and Mrs. Sam figures out front. And I decorate for Easter. But kids come along and shoot the Easter bunnies with paint ball guns. And I’m not doing Halloween anymore because some idiot lit the hay display on fire. 

Do you believe in Santa?
Yeah, I believe in Santa. This woman was here with her kids. One kid was sitting there, crying. I said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “My father just left my mother. We’re not gonna have Christmas this year.” I checked it out, told the mayor what was up. We went on a mission and got them all new toys, sleds, coats, boots. That woman I never talked to afterwards. But she went by my house one day and gave me a thumbs up.

When do you start decorating, and do you have help?
The day after Labor Day. No, I don’t have help. I do it all myself. I’ve lost a few girlfriends, I spend so much time on the house. The TV show, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” asked me if I want to be on their show. I said no. The winner is always some guy who sat there and paid for crews and cranes to do it for him. They put up all this modern crap and they get trophies. I want nothing to do with that.

How much electricity does it require?
It takes 8,000 kilowatts and costs $1,800 for the season—the day after Thanksgiving through January 15. I don’t charge admission. I’ve got a donation box out, but most people walk right by it. Maybe this year will be different. 

 

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July 2018

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Contact Name: Andrea Bingham
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Cost: $250

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Hunt Hill Farm
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Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
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Cost: $100

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
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View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farn
Telephone: 860-355-0300
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
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Jennifer paints with vibrant hues in multiple layers, capturing her exuberance and fascination with color and texture. She has developed her own style through many years of experimentation,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free!

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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
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Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
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The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
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Sponsor: Ives Concert Park and Promotions in Motion
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Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
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More information

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Cost: $100

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
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View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farn
Telephone: 860-355-0300
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More information

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Cost: Tickets: $60 – $20, $10 (Young Adults 18-25), and Kids under 18 Free!

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View map »


Telephone: 860-542-3000
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

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Where:
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Website »

More information

Jennifer paints with vibrant hues in multiple layers, capturing her exuberance and fascination with color and texture. She has developed her own style through many years of experimentation,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
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More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is celebrating the middle of summer vacation with a week of FREE afternoon crafts and games for families at the Tapping Reeve Meadow....

Cost: Free!

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
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Cost: $175

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-8558
Contact Name: Andrea Bingham
Website »

More information

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Cost: Admission is $7 per person; children 12 & under free.

Where:
Mica Quarry Estate-Garden of Monika & Buddy Nixon
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Kent, CT
View map »


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days Program staff
Website »

More information

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Cost: $99/$114

Where:
Wisdom House
229 East Litchfield Rd
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Wisdom House
Telephone: 860-567-3163
Contact Name: Bonnie Mis
Website »

More information

A workshop leading to the creation of a floral piece in the Free Style Arrangement of the Sogestsu School of Ikebana. This includes sketching of the arrangement,  an understanding for the...

Cost: $99/$114

Where:
Wisdom House
229 East Litchfield Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Wisdom House
Telephone: 860-567-3163
Contact Name: Bonnie Mis
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Papermoon Performing Arts Studio
49 Commons Drive
Next to WZBG Radio
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Papermoon Performing Arts
Telephone: 203-707-8428
Contact Name: Danielle Eichman
Website »

More information

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Cost: Tickets $20 in advance, $30 at the door.

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
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View map »


Sponsor: Ives Concert Park and Promotions in Motion
Telephone: 203-837-9227
Contact Name: Phyllis Cortese
Website »

More information

Summer Concert Series Package includes 4 concerts that will be shown all at Hunt Hill Farm. All concerts start at 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM on the dates below with artist information. For more...

Cost: $100

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Rd
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farn
Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

More information

Join in the fun this summer as we challenge you to OWL Reads! Challenge yourself to read six to nine books this summer! How to participate? Beginning June 20th come to OWL to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

Jennifer paints with vibrant hues in multiple layers, capturing her exuberance and fascination with color and texture. She has developed her own style through many years of experimentation,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The Farm-Fresh Market was created in 2007 with 15 local vendors, and has grown over the years to become a staple of the Litchfield Hills community throughout all seasons. We were so proud to be...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Center School Parking Lot
Woodruff Lane
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Telephone: 860-567-3871
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Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
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