Couple keeps holiday light tradition alive at Slocum Road home

Dec 19, 2021

When Tim and Jessica Sampaio purchased their Slocum Road house in 2017, the previous owners placed one condition: They must maintain the home’s legacy of holiday cheer.

For decades, the house located at 179 Slocum Road, was known for its grand display of Christmas lights and decorations set up by the late Carol D'Auteuil. Her displays were often referred to as “Little LaSalette,” Tim Sampaio noted.

“This place was the house of lights,” he said. “The exterior might have changed, but we’re trying to keep the tradition alive and keep people excited about this house.”

Since taking over the tradition, Tim said he was surprised to find just how many people still come out to see the holiday decorations.

“I used to see a car outside and wonder why it’s out there and see a flash go off,” he said. “Now it’s kind of normal to see.”

The Dartmouth resident noted that many have stopped by his Slocum Road home to recall their own memories of past displays. Some, he said, have told stories about backyard weddings, while others recall checking out the holiday displays during their childhoods.

“I tell [my wife] all the time that it’s always so weird that people who aren’t relatives have memories of this house,” Tim said with a laugh.

While the couple is proud to carry on the tradition, they said they’re still working their way up to the property’s former reputation of “Little LaSalette.”

“It’s nothing compared to what they used to have up,” Jessica said. “But we try.”

In an average year, Tim said, the D'Auteuils would have around 15,000 lights set up outside the house.

“I don’t know how they got 15,000 up,” he said with a laugh. “I know I have a lot [of lights], but I’m only at 2,000.”

Tim, a professional electrician, has brought some of his expertise into his setup. He noted that his display consists almost entirely of LED lights and inflatables running on energy-efficient motors.

“Some people like to splice things together and get all these extra extension cords,” he noted. “I don’t like doing that stuff — I always do everything the proper way.”

Along with adorning the house with lights, the Sampaios also populate their front lawn with holiday inflatables chosen by their three-year-old daughter Kennedy. Decorations include Olaf from “Frozen,” a helicopter flown by flightless penguins, and a large, smiling snowman. 

“She’s our decorator,” Jessica said with a smile. “She picks everything and we put it out there.”

Having the family involved is easily the couple’s favorite aspect of carrying on the D'Auteuils tradition, Jessica added.

She said that every night, the family, including nine-month-old son Jacob, gathers to see the exterior of the house become a winter wonderland.

“It’s like a family affair once it gets dark,” Jessica said. “After the sun goes down, everyone goes to the window and makes sure everything is up right.”

While the Sampaios were not expecting to outshine the past displays, they said they’re glad that the house purchase came with that stipulation to carry on the holiday tradition. 

“There’s just something about the house that makes you want to have people look at it,” Tim said. “I’m glad we’re bringing this house back up — I don’t want this town to lose the ‘House of Lights.’”