A group of good elves on Reynard Street in Gloucester are doing their part to make sure everyone has a holly, jolly holiday season this year.
Every December, neighbors on the street have decked their homes with festive lights for years, to encourage members of the community to drive by to see the beautiful displays. Recently, the group also started leaving out a bin for food donations for The Open Door too.
“For as long as I can remember, growing up on Reynard Street, my family has always decorated our house with lights,” said Leah Carlson, a Reynard Street resident.
Neighbors have been decorating their homes with lights each holiday season for many years.
“We are honored to be counted as part of the Reynard Street neighborhood tradition,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “A festive food drive is such a fun way to help make a difference and reflect the enduring spirit of community on Cape Ann.”
After the pandemic hit in 2020, Leah and her neighbors hoped their lights would brighten up the holidays for the community, but they took it a step further and wanted to give back, too. That was the first holiday season they accepted food donations for The Open Door.
A cheerfully decorated home on Reynard Street.
Neighbor Jenn Klopotoski says Carlson has led the charge to collect donations, checking the donations daily, and dropping them off at The Open Door at the end of the holiday season.
“It’s really the brainchild of Leah and her mom Christine,” Klopotoski said. “She’s the one who built the donation box, lights it up, and puts it out there every year.”
Now in its third year, Carlson is hopeful the tradition will continue in full swing.
“The reason that I personally enjoy the holiday season so much is because of the opportunity to give,” Carlson said. “Everyone deserves a happy holiday season, no matter what they are going through in their own lives. Giving back to the community with a donation drive felt like one small step towards brightening the holidays for the people who need it the most.”
Carlson agrees the success of the food drive reflects the close-knit community on Cape Ann.
“I have spent most of my life in this town. It is truly unmatched in its sense of community and togetherness,” Carlson said. “But it really wasn’t until we put out this donation bin that I really understood just how special the people in this town are. We all love our city, and we all seem to want to do the best we can to support and give back.”
“Part of the reason we do the lights in the first place is that we know how much the community likes them,” Klopotoski said. “We’re the only household with small kids, so the rest of the neighbors lighting their houses up like they do, they do that for the community. If you’re going to visit please help us give back to the community and support the food drive.”
Neighbors on Reynard Street intricately light up their homes to spread holiday cheer.
Those that wish to view the light displays and/or make a donation can drive through Reynard Street in Gloucester through Christmas Eve. Members of the community are asked not to donate anything in a glass jar for safety.