The creator of the “Christmas House” on Lexington Street in New Britain has died.
Rita Giancola, 91, died Monday surrounded by family and Christmas lights.
She started decorating her home and yard with Christmas décor more than 40 years ago. It started as a family tradition, but took on a life of its own when visitors from New Britain and beyond came to catch a glimpse.
“It was amazing. She had her ceilings decorated, she had her bathrooms decorated. She had ever inch of that house decorated,” said Molly Sherman, a volunteer at St. Mark’s Episcopal Food Pantry in New Britain.
“I took my daughter through there when she was very little and my daughter was like at the north pole, wide eyes and very excited as most kids were,” said David Hartshorn, a lawyer at the Law Offices of Brian Mongelluzzo next to Giancola’s home for the past 26 years.
For every person that stepped through her door, all Giancola asked was that they donate non-perishable food to feed the hungry in the community.
Just this last year alone, she collected and donated 3,000 pounds of food to St. Mark’s Food Pantry in New Britain.
“She was so happy to do it. You would think she was getting the gift. She was just so thrilled,” said Sherman.
Giancola’s passion went beyond the Christmas season. She also loved ballroom dancing and used her home to teach students for 61 years.
It was in that same home, that brought joy to so many, that Giancola passed away.
“It is like the passing of an era. She was a remarkable woman,” said Hartshorn.
“I’m very sad to lose Rita as a friend. I can’t help smiling just to think about her because she was such an extraordinary, energetic, generous, exuberant person. So full of joy and she just spread that,” said Sherman.