It’s the holiday season, and it’s possible no one knows that better than the Crousore household. Chris and Anna Crousore, located at 2917 Roanoke Avenue, have a massive Christmas light display consisting of more than 21,000 lights that the public can enjoy every evening this month. Additionally, they’re asking for donations for the Craven Community College (Craven CC) Foundation.
James Colucci, grandson of the Crousores, explained that he and his family have always loved Christmas and have historically outdone themselves in the decorations department. His mother, Laura Wiggs, especially enjoyed the Christmas holiday, and after she passed away from stage four metastasized breast cancer at age 47 last November, James and the family decided to step up their light show game.
“We actually started planning it as we were decorating last year,” he said. “We decided that we were going to go bigger and have a lot more fun with it this year.”
James said it took them nearly three months to set up the lights and decorations, while he’s been working behind the scenes on sequencing and computer work to make sure all the lights are synced to music since May. In addition to the lights, the yard touts impressive wooden decorations handcrafted by Mr. Crousore, who also painted them with the help of James and his mother, sister and two brothers.
“It was a really good, wholesome family experience,” said James “We definitely bonded over that quite a bit.”
They have made so many decorations over the years that the show has now taken over their neighbors’ yards on both sides. One such display is a painted wood gingerbread village affectionately called “Laura’s Village” and consisting of a school, theater, firehouse, hospital, police station, ambulance, houses and more. Despite having an epic light display choreographed to popular tunes, the family took it one step further this year and set up a donation box to benefit the Craven CC Foundation.
“We decided years ago to really just do it for family and friends,” said James. “And we felt like this year we could make it fun enough to where we can open up the possibility of donations to different charities in the area.”
Laura had attended the college prior to and during her cancer treatments, and the family wanted to show support for the school that had helped her. She earned an Associate in Accounting degree in 1993 and decided to return to the Medical Assisting program several years later.
“She started back when she was going through her first few rounds of chemotherapy and radiation—just something to help keep her mind off of the situation that she was going through and her treatments,” said James. “It was almost like it was her therapy, going back to school. That way she was doing something productive and not just laying around the house not doing anything.”
Laura graduated from the Medical Assisting program in 2016 and had nothing but positive things to say about her experience. In particular, James noted that instructor Alexa Tarplee had really made a difference and inspired his mother to keep going. Laura’s legacy of attending Craven CC continues today as well with her daughter attending Craven Early College and one of her sons attending the college’s welding program.
Upon her death, Laura’s estate bequeathed a generous donation to the Craven CC Foundation. During her time at the college, she had relied on financial support through FAFSA, scholarships and grants, and her family decided to give other students that same opportunity this year. A white donation box is affixed to the ground near the Crousores’ front porch, and visitors can drop off cash or checks, which will be taken directly to the Craven CC Foundation at the start of the new year.
There is also a donation option on the Crousore Christmas Lights Facebook page, or donations can be dropped off at the Craven CC Foundation office located in the Brock Administration Building on the New Bern campus or mailed to 800 College Court, New Bern, NC 28562. Please make a note that the donation is for the Laura Wiggs Scholarship Fund.
The light show will run every night through Dec. 30, Sunday-Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Onlookers can tune into 97.5 FM to hear music synced to the lightshow from the comfort of their cars.
“It really helps right now because of coronavirus to have proper social distancing, families staying in their car,” said James. “We wanted to make sure that all walks of life, from the youngest of the kids to the oldest, feel safe enough to come out and watch the show and enjoy it.”
This article was originally published in the New Bern Sun Journal on December 16, 2020.