The inside story of one of Dartmouth’s flashiest Christmas displays

Dec 4, 2018

Paul and Debbie Botelho are not quite sure how many Christmas lights adorn their Isaac Circle home, but Paul puts the estimate at well over 10,000 bulbs.

Paul Botelho is the mastermind behind the Botelho Family XMas Spectacular. Each year, he turns his quiet home into a lights show featuring music, plenty of Christmas lights, and, of course, plenty of holiday cheer.

The display has drawn quite the reputation in Dartmouth and beyond. It is routinely featured on lists of must-see South Coast Christmas displays, and Botelho even maintains a Facebook fan page with 500 followers eager to catch a glimpse of the show.

“With the amount of people that come by I thought why not make a Facebook page,” Botelho  said.

Unlike most displays, which might feature lights and decorations, Botelho takes it one step further.

Pulling up to his home, visitors are greeted with a large sign advising them to tune their radios to 91.7 FM to listen to a track list of more than 30 holiday classics, all painstakingly synched to a computer-controlled system which flashes, dims, and brightens the lights on cue with the beat of each song.

“When the beat hits, I’ll have for instance the lights on the roof come on, so this way I feel like it gives you more of a heartbeat,” Botelho explained. “You feel the beats.”

Botelho’s setup uses four Light-o-Rama controllers. Each controller provides 16 channels, allowing Botelho to customize the brightness, intensity, and flashes of 64 individual sets of lights.

Since shortly after Halloween, he had been working to set up the display, covering his yard and home with lights, trees, and decorations, all synced to the system. Everything was unveiled on December 3, although he was quick to identify a few minor issues which will be worked out.

The transition from casual holiday decorator to lights show extraordinaire began when he picked up a simple holiday lights kit from KMart. The kit let him add a new dimension to his lights with timing, which he used for several years before moving on to bigger and better kits.

He’s always been a fan of the holiday season, too.

“I used to go to La Salette,” Botelho said. “My mom and dad used to bring us when we were kids. Obviously La Salette doesn’t have music or dance, but I was always in awe with it.”

Every year, he adds to his growing collection of ornaments and lights – this year, he expanded his presence past his driveway with large “JOY” displays. And he intends to keep growing it – he’s received heartwarming handwritten letters from younger fans, which he said makes it all worth doing.

Want to check out the display? It runs Sundays-Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m. at his Isaac Circle home, which is located off of Meadowood Drive.

On some weekends, Botelho’s and neighborhood children run a hot chocolate stand and visitors might even catch a glimpse at Santa at special times.