12 Deals of Christmas
AMBER ALERT – Share to help find missing 1-year-old

Owner of New Britain ‘Christmas House’ passes away at age 91

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW BRITAIN -- She gave her all to the city of New Britain for three months of every year, but unfortunately 2015 will remain the last edition of city staple the "Christmas House," at least with the one who started it all.

Rita GiancolaRita Giancola decorated her house so meticulously every year that she drew hundreds, or even thousands to her doorstep. The 91-year-old opened her front door to the community for five days every December for 37 years, starting in 1978.

Every October, Giancola would begin stringing lights and putting up decorations.

"They can't believe a little old lady like me is still doing it," Giancola told FOX 61 in 2015. And despite her age, as recently as 2015 she didn't leave the important task to others: she said she continued to do nearly 70 percent of the decorating all on her own, though she did have some help from her granddaughters and one of her daughters.

And while she did suffer a setback last year--someone broke several of her decorations and vandalized her property--the show still went on to bring joy to all the visitors.

"I love people, I love to give to people, I love to give of myself," Giancola said in 2015.

And she made it a good cause. While admission was free, she did ask for people to donate household goods, which she in turn gave to families in need.

Giancola's grandson told FOX 61 that the tradition will continue one more year in December 2016, but it will be the last. The family will hold the open house and call it "This one is for Rita."

"This year will be the last year in memory of her so we wanna get the biggest crowd yet!" Dave Giancola said.

According to the funeral home, calling hours for Giancola will be held Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Erickson-Hansen Funeral Home, 411 South Main St., New Britain.  Funeral services will be Friday at 10 a.m. at Berlin Congregational Church, 878 Worthington Ridge, Berlin.

Memorial donations can be made to the Salvation Army, 78 Franklin Sq., New Britain, CT 06051.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.