La Salette Shrine
410 NH Route 4A
Enfield, NH

Christmas FAQ

Q. When are the lights turned on?
A. They are first lit on the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, 5-9 PM (In 2013, that is Nov. 30 and Dec. 1).
Then they go back on again the next Friday and every night after that until the end of the year, also 5-9 PM (In 2013, Dec. 6-31).

Q. How many lights are there?
A. The current estimate is over 50,000.

Q. What is the admission fee?
A. Zero dollars. We rely on sponsors and freewill offerings. We also keep the cafeteria prices as low as we reasonably can.

Q. When do the lights go up?
A. The work begins in October. Everything is ready by Thanksgiving.

Q. Who puts them up?
A. Brother Claude Rhéaume, M.S. and our handyman Rick Smith (who also maintain the grounds all summer, do the plowing in the winter, etc.) do at least 90% of the work. Six or eight volunteers come two or three days in November.

Q. When are the lights taken down?
A. As soon as weather permits after January 1.

Q. How long have you had the lights at La Salette of Enfield?
A. Since 1954. It was our participation in the Marian Year proclaimed by Pope Pius XII. There was one year with no lights during the energy crisis in the early 70's. That makes 2015 our 60th year.

Q. Who makes the displays?
A. Most of the displays you see today were designed and made in the 1990's by a La Salette Brother named Bob Roy. Some newer ones have been made by Brother Claude Rhéaume and Mr. Rick Smith.

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Q. Why did they make new ones?
Before the 1990's, most of the displays were on boards. The "gingerbread kids" that you still see today are the only ones left from the old days. The larger ones were very heavy, and were easily knocked over by strong winds. The new ones are on light metal frames and are designed so that the wind blows right through them.

Q. Do the displays change from year to year?
A. Yes and no. Each year there are a few new pieces, mostly snowflakes and gingerbread kids, but most of the displays are the same from year to year. What changes is the location. A few of the displays are in the same place each year, but most are rearranged.

Q. What is the "Santa Program"?
A. Santa comes and helps the children understand why we celebrate Christmas, by telling them the story of the birth of Jesus. As he does so, he calls on children to take on various roles in the story. They put on simple costumes and by the end of the story there is a tableau at the stable with Mary, Joseph, angels, an innkeeper, shepherds, sheep, wise  men, and even a cow and donkey. The program lasts fifteen to twenty minutes, and is followed by photo-ops. Each child receives a small gift, not a toy but something to remind them of the story they have just heard.

Q. When is the "Santa Program"?
A. The first time is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, as part of Children's Day, which includes various activities between 3 and 5 PM.
After that, Santa comes every Friday and Saturday until Christmas, at 7:30 PM. (At this writing there is only one more visit, Friday, December 23. Santa is otherwise occupied on December 24.)

Q. How long has Santa been coming to tell the Christmas story?
A. 2013 is the 18th year.

Q. Why can't we walk up the hill any more?
A. We no longer have the personnel to keep the pathways clear and safe, and there are lots more wires to trip on than in the old days.

Q. What is different about your lights display?
A. It is focused almost entirely on the birth of Jesus. The only "secular" symbols are the gingerbread kids and a few pieces reflecting Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Even Santa's role is oriented to keeping Christ in Christmas. For example, at the end of the Santa program, Santa kneels before the baby Jesus and leads the children in prayer.

Q. How many people come to see the lights?
A. We do not know. This year has definitely seen a significant increase, partly because we have been blessed with good weather. It is also an inexpensive evening out for families. The greatest numbers, after the opening weekend, are on Saturdays, which have concerts and then Mass and then Santa. The second highest number is on Fridays, because of the Santa Program. (If anyone out there wants to volunteer to count visitors with a clicker, please let us know. Clicker will be provided.)

Q. How do people usually respond?
A. We have heard no complaints, and it is gratifying to meet people who come to see our lights year after year, even when that means a really long drive, as well as those who come for the first time and are bowled over by what they find. And when visitors thank us for doing this, well, you can imagine how we feel!

Q. What is La Salette?
A. La Salette is a place, an event, a message, and a group of persons.
The original place is a village in the French Alps.
The event is an Apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the mountains near that village, on September 19, 1846.
The message is a call to be reconciled to God. All the “La Salettes” around the world, including La Salette of Enfield, are meant to promote that message.
The persons are the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette (M.S.), who look for every possible way to bring reconciliation into our world. There are also Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, and many groups of lay persons who participate in a variety of ways in that same spirit and mission.

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