Lighting up the night

One of the most fun and festive holiday displays lights up Ocean Park. —Gabrielle Mannino

If you drive through Ocean Park to check out the holiday light display on a weekend evening, you might think there’s a serious short-circuit problem, but open your car windows or turn on the radio, and you’ll be treated to one of the most fun seasonal sight and sound spectacles that the Vineyard has to offer.

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from dusk until about 10 pm, the colorful display, which has been expanding every year since it was first installed in 2012, comes alive — blinking and flashing along to music. The lights are synchronized to a soundtrack of rocked-out symphonic holiday music by progressive rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra. On some nights (weather permitting), the music is played through speakers in the park, or you can tune in to the music on your radio at 88.5.

The light and music show is brought to you by Crosslands Landscaping, responsible for the year-round planting, upkeep, and decoration of the Oak Bluffs showplace park as well as for lighting up the Oak Bluffs Harbor and Sunset Lake. This year founder and landscape designer and contractor Mark Crossland decided to bump up the spectacle to a new level. “Every year we add something new,” said Mr. Crossland in a telephone interview. Currently the display includes over 60 lighted evergreen tree forms in a variety of colors, a deer family, and a shooting star suspended above the park by a wire, as well as the lighted arches spotlighting a fully lit Christmas tree on the bandstand platform.

As the music plays, the trees — in colored groupings — flash on and off in sync with the notes of the music. The soundtrack tends to the dramatic. Familiar Christmas songs and some classical numbers are rendered with a combination of full symphony arrangements, organ and synthesizer music, and soaring electric guitar solos. Some of the 10 songs are sped-up rock versions of Christmas songs like “O Holy Night,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Carol of the Bells” (a staple of some radio stations’ Christmas programming). Other tracks include a fast-paced piece from “The Nutcracker” and a song called “Christmas Canon” based on the beautiful and moving Pachelbel “Canon,” with a children’s chorus singing lyrics written by the band.

While most Islanders enjoy the unique spectacle, there have been some critics on the Facebook page Islanders Talk. Negative responses came from people who prefer something a little more subdued. One commenter wrote, “Love the lights, has always been a favorite. Really dislike the blinking. Takes away from the serenity.” Another commented, “I like it better without the disco lights … I got a headache watching it all go on & off …” However, the original posting on the Facebook page by a fan of the display garnered over 300 likes, loves, and wows, and the majority of commenters were enthusiastic. Positive comments include, “Love it! It’s festive and fun, with a soundtrack for a few hours for a couple of weeks. What a wonderful celebration of the season,“ and, “Thank you Mark Crossland and crew! I brought my granddaughters and they just loved it, as did I.”

Mark and Brenda Hanson, who live on Samoset Avenue, just on the other side of the park, are among the appreciative. Although they can catch glimpses of the lights and hear the music from their house, the couple has wandered over a number of times to enjoy the full show. “I love it. I love the music,” says Mr. Hanson. “I’ve actually filmed it to show to my family.” Ms. Hanson is equally impressed, although she offered a note of caution. “I have advice for anyone who goes over to see the show: Check your shoes when you come back into the house.” Her comment refers to a display of another kind associated with the park — the flocks of geese who settle in every year, fertilizing the grounds with their droppings.

For those who prefer a more subtle sight and sound experience, Donaroma’s Nursery is offering a synchronized holiday light show which can be enjoyed at their Edgartown location every evening through Jan. 1. Drive in and tune your radio to 87.9 to hear traditional Christmas music paired with a flashing light display. Donaroma’s added the display to their popular holiday offerings about five years ago.


This article by Gwyn McAllister originally appeared on