For more than three decades, Rich and Linda Faucher have been the talk of the town.
Each year come Thanksgiving, hundreds of thousands of lights illuminate their Red Lion home. By the time the holiday display is lit in late November, Rich Faucher has devoted countless hours and several months to the light show.
Over the decades, thousands of visitors have stopped by Delaware’s Christmas House, located at 1054 Red Lion Road. In the 1980s or ’90s, New Castle County Council renamed the Fauchers’ driveway Santa Claus Lane, and Google Maps has a special locator for the home.
But while the Fauchers’ house has remained one of Delaware’s premiere Christmas displays since they moved there in 1988, this year, another local couple is trying to steal the limelight – and maybe even Christmas, too.
Just down the street from the Fauchers, at 1031 Red Lion Road, Nino Mallari and Gloria Rivera are embracing the Grinch.
In the couple’s yard, foot-high, red and green letters spell out “A Grinch lives here.” On the roof of their home sits the grumpy green recluse dressed in Santa garb.
The Grinch theme is intentional, the couple told Delaware Online/The News Journal this week.
Last Christmas, the first year Mallari and Rivera owned their home, they put up traditional lights. On the roof was an inflatable reindeer, and the décor was “pretty regular,” Mallari said.
This year, the two “figured it would be fun for people in the community to say, ‘Let’s go see the Santa house,’ and then, ‘Oh, the Grinch house is right next door,’” Mallari said.
“Plus, Gloria always calls me the Grinch, so that played (into it) too,” he added.
It’s not exactly clear where Rivera’s nickname for her boyfriend comes from – after all, Mallari loves Christmas.
Growing up in the Philippines, a country that’s more than 80% Catholic, Mallari’s family always began their Christmas countdown in September. They decorated with lights and other holiday displays, a tradition they continued in the U.S.
When they moved to a home by Texas Roadhouse in Bear, they learned of the Christmas House. Mallari’s family would take him to see the lights when he was younger, at which he marveled.
Rivera, too, grew up visiting the Fauchers’ lights. From age 12 or so, her family would take her annually, and she, too, was enraptured.
That’s why when the couple bought their home in June 2020, they knew they had to decorate. And then, when the lights on the reindeer that sat on their roof last year went out, they decided to veer from traditional designs.
“We hope everyone finds it just as humorous and uplifting as we do,” Rivera said. “It’s all in good fun.”
Mallari and Rivera don’t know exactly how many lights they have, but Rivera estimates they’ve made at least 20 trips and “likely more” to Lowes and Home Depot.
While the actual setup of the display takes about three days – Mallari owns a general contracting business that specializes in roofing, gutters and siding and has his crew help out – the planning is time-consuming and the electric bill isn’t cheap.
Throughout the year, too, the couple keeps an eye out for Grinch décor in hopes of evolving the display. But, after recently coming across the “A Grinch lives here” letters, they believe the green Christmas grouch is their calling.
“We were just shopping for decorations at a department store and the sign randomly stood out,” Rivera said. “It was like, ‘What are the chances?’”
Though the lights will still be up for a few more weeks – the couple says they plan to take them down sometime after the New Year – Mallari is already planning for next year.
“We’re gonna have a big sleigh in the front with a bunch of gifts and a tree stuck on it, like in the movie,” Mallari said. “It’s going to be even better than what it is today, and next year, the plan is to steal Christmas.”
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