Without 40 acres of bright lights, dancing elves, a jolly glowing Santa Claus, and a peaceful nativity scene this year, Millis won't be quite the winter wonderland it has been in recent years.
Without 40 acres of bright lights, dancing elves, a jolly glowing Santa Claus and a peaceful nativity scene, Millis won't be quite the winter wonderland it has been in recent years.
The Meehan family's larger-than-life Christmas display, Millis Wonderland, is on a hiatus this year.
Imperial car dealership owner Kevin Meehan and his family released a statement on the display's Web site, www.milliswonderland.com, saying it was a "difficult decision," but the attraction has been canceled due a collapsed culvert on Causeway Street where they live. The unsafe road conditions will not allow for large volumes of traffic, the Meehans wrote.
"Our decision is the result of a significant infrastructure repair that needs to be made on our road," the statement reads. " ... Logistically, there is no way for us to safely accommodate the large number of visitors drawn to our display each year."
However, Selectman Charles Vecchi said the board knew the Meehan family would not put on the display in October -- before the culvert collapsed.
"It was a lot of work for the Meehans, I know, and a lot of work for the town," he said.
The attraction has been a staple in town for more than 10 years, with more than 40 acres on the Meehan farm being decorated with lights and displays galore. Cars would typically drive through the family's farm to get into the holiday spirit.
The display was voted the country's best Christmas lights setup a couple of years ago by the viewers of NBC's "Today" show.
However, Vecchi said the culvert collapsed after he had a conversation with Meehan about not doing the display.
"I brought it up because Causeway Street is the way to get to his house," Vecchi said. "But it was a moot question."
Police Chief Peter McGowan said the street is closed around 229 Causeway St., though there are detour signs around the area where the road is currently closed.
"We want to get the word out about the closure, we don't want people to make the trek then be disappointed," he said.
Though he is saddened about the display's hiatus, he said it was a necessary measure to take.
McGowan said he did not want to speak for the Meehans, but said there may have been other reasons for canceling the display.
"I don't want to speak for the Meehans, but it was (probably) a lot of work," he said.
Christmas in Millis will be a little dimmer this year, McGowan said.
"It is something everyone looks forward to, and now that we've had it for a couple of years, it's a disruption," he said. "And the traffic is not as bad as it was initially (at the display)."
Residents will be disappointed as well, McGowan said, because the display is a source of town pride.
"It was nice to have the positive attention to the town," he said. "It wasn't just the Meehan family's wonderland, it was Millis' wonderland. People felt like they were a part of it too."
Vecchi said the display "put Millis on the map."
"I am disappointed, everyone got used to having it up," he said. "But it's up to the Meehans, it is an awful lot of work. (Kevin Meehan) would stand out there (greeting people) for a good portion of the night."
And from Thanksgiving to New Year's, that could get tiring, Vecchi said.
There was usually no admission charge to the display, but the Meehans typically asked people to donate to the Salvation Army at its conclusion.
This year, though there will be no display, the Meehan family is asking people to do the same through the display's Web site.
In years past, as many as 4,000 cars would line Causeway Street, waiting to get into the display.
But this year, Causeway Street will be bare.
"I went down every year, it was nice," Vecchi said.
Phone calls to Kevin Meehan were not returned.
Milford Daily News writer Krista Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-634-7546.