Public Displays of Reflection

Photo by Darren Fava

By Joseph Myers

The 2700 blocks of South Smedley and Colorado streets have again infused the Marconi neighborhood with Christmas spirit thanks to their inviting holiday-centric lights and decorations. The unique, oval-shaped blocks would be an exceptional place to visit based solely on residents’ home decorations and light displays. But the park-like island in the center of each block has become their calling card. A perpetual parade of motorists make their way along the expanse nightly to take in the sights.
Smedley Street, whose eponymous Christmas Light Spectacular Facebook page has garnered more than 2,000 “likes,” planned to celebrate opening night on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Wet weather and maintenance matters delayed the event until December 4th.

Photo courtesy Smedley Street Christmas Facebook page.

The resident’s persistence and handiwork were well-received. “By the smiles on our faces, you can tell we’re pretty impressed,” said Jeremy Bryson, exploring the block with wife Tisha Hartman and their children, six-year-old Miles and one-year-old Nina. The family recently moved here from San Diego. “We live nearby,” explained Hartman, “so it was an easy decision to come here. But we weren’t aware of the full beauty and allure of the presentation.”

This year’s display includes inflatables such as tributes to Chase and Marshall of “Paw Patrol” fame, Candy Castle, and the North Pole Stables complete with depictions of Santa Claus and his reindeer helpers.

Paul Pellegrino, a South-Philadelphia-native who now resides in Delaware County, was especially taken with the manger scene. “I had intended just to drive by pretty fast before taking my daughter to dinner, but I couldn’t say ‘No’ when she asked me to let her look at everything.” Seven-year-old Olivia, shouted, “This is the best day ever,” while exploring the site. She also enjoyed a conversation with the North Pole’s most famous inhabitant, as Santa posed for pictures.
The Pellegrinos decided to walk over to Colorado Street. There they found another wonderful display that has likewise delighted neighborhood residents and guests for years.

“This time of year is all about goodwill, so we’re happy that these kind people put up their decorations each year for us to see,” Declan Murphy said to a nod from his wife Lucinda. Originally from Ireland, the two have lived in Pennsport for five years and regularly make inspecting the various lights in South Philly a part of their seasonal fun. The recent retirees are particularly fond of Colorado Street because of its quaint feel, accentuated by a massive “Merry Christmas” sign.
“The people who live around here are very spoiled,” Lucinda said with a laugh. “They have Colorado Street and Smedley Street so close together. Who could ever be in a bad mood when they have that going for themselves?”