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Early holiday lights in Portland this year because 'we all need a little more joy'

After initial criticism, Portland, Maine couple finds 'overwhelming community support' as early holiday lights spread throughout the city.

PORTLAND, Maine — EDITORS NOTE: We want to see your holiday light displays! Just download our mobile app (iOS | Android) and you'll see the section to send us your holiday light displays. After you send us your photos, you'll be able to filter our map to see all the holiday light locations people have sent us. Just check out our Near ME section of the app. Where you can, please shoot all pictures and video horizontal, not vertical. Basically like you're holding a hamburger. Cindy Williams says hamburger, not hot dog

Early Holiday Lights

At the end of a year full of fear and uncertainty because of coronavirus, some Portland residents are celebrating the holiday season early, hoping to spread the Christmas spirit as soon as they can.

Cameron Ramich and Jacob Boyce have been together for five years and bought their first house on Murray Street in September. They worked on their home throughout the quarantine and Ramich said that after such a difficult year, he was ready to start stringing lights just after Halloween.

Those next few days were unusually warm, and the couple took advantage of the weather to decorate their Christmas tree and hang lights. But the festivities soured when they overheard people walking by weigh in on the early celebrating.

"Our windows were open and we overheard someone walking by looking up at our house calling it disgusting, calling the tree and the lights disgusting, and how it shouldn't be done until after Thanksgiving," Ramich said. "I am so emotional that it really got to me."

So he posted about the experience on the app Next Door. Within hours, Ramich saw dozens of responses offering "an overwhelming amount of support from so many people [in] the community."

"I am about to put up Christmas decorations too, because we all need a little more joy in such a difficult year," one wrote. "I am sorry people were so rude to you. They sound sad. So I will be sure to add extra-extra lights at my house just for them."

"Haters gonna hate!!!" wrote another. "Many people are decorating early this year. We need all the beauty, lights and efforts of joy that we can get. Keep shining!!! Thank you!"

"It's been a terrible year for many reasons and our kids really wanted to see Christmas lights so we thought why not," wrote Sara Artinyan of Noyes Street, whose lights are topped by a giant inflatable Grinch atop her porch. "An extra month to enjoy the decorations is wonderful in my opinion."

"During the year 2020 of all years, like this is the time to put up decorations early and it was so overwhelming to see people say, 'You do what you want,' and, 'You know what, we want to drive by and see your decorations," Ramich said. "I was like almost in tears by the end of the night ... I knew Portland was always such a giving and kind and accepting and a community that is based around equality and it just confirmed that."

The couple said their holiday displays will continue to grow.

"Every Christmas we go Christmas shopping and we find the deals and eventually we have an entire winter wonderland to choose from," Boyce said. "And it just keeps getting bigger and bigger."