Families come from miles around to be dazzled by the Hathaway family’s holiday light show at 21 Hillview Drive in Bangor. The display is a labor of love for Rick, Deanna, and their friends and neighbors, who spend countless hours putting every individual string of lights into place. The Hathaways know their incredible investment is worth the time when they see the smiles on the faces of both children and adults. But, look closely at a sign and brochure holder next to the road, and you’ll see that this annual tradition has a deeper meaning.
Rick and Deanna’s son Warren, age six, spent his first 51 days of life in Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and his twin brother Alex passed away four days after coming into the world. The twins were delivered early at 29 weeks because of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, a rare condition where blood flows unequally between twins that share a placenta. While it was a tragic time for the Hathaways, they credit the NICU staff with providing exceptional care. Now, they are giving back by encouraging viewers of the light display to donate to the NICU.
“The light display is a way for us to make a difference, and to encourage others to do the same,” said Rick. “We support the NICU because what they do is amazing. In the 51 days we were there, we got to know the doctors, the nurses, and the techs. We consider them to be friends and family, because they have known Warren since the day he was born. They do amazing work.”
The secret behind the light display is computer software that synchronizes the lights on the house, 25-foot tree, and 10-foot leaping arches with holiday songs broadcast using a low-powered FM transmitter. The result is a magnificent coordinated show awash in pulses of green, red, and white lights.
More than $14,000 has been raised since the Hathaways began inviting the community to contribute six years ago. The NICU relies on donations, such as those inspired by the Hathaway family’s holiday light show, to stay on the leading edge of care. Donations also support families, many of whom travel hundreds of miles at a moment’s notice to access highly specialized care available nowhere else in northern, eastern, and central Maine.
“Donor contributions are so important,” said Mikele Neal, BSN, RN, nurse manager, Eastern Maine Medical Center Women’s and Children’s Services. “We recently used donor funds to purchase a new transport isolette, which is a mobile intensive care unit used to sustain newborns coming to the hospital by helicopter, ambulance, or plane. Generous donors also allow us to provide meal vouchers to families whose lives have essentially been turned upside down. They are so appreciative for the support.”
The 2017 Hathaway holiday light show can be viewed between 5 and 9 pm through December 16, and between 4:30 to 9:30 pm from December 17 to 26.