JAMAICA PLAIN—The First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain became a canvas for the enchanting light show “Magic in Your House,”—created by local artist Diego Delmar and a team of animators from Guadalajara, Mexico—that runs from December 2 to January 6.
The show, projected on the church’s tower, looked to bring holiday joy to children and residents across the community. Local organizations such as the Boston Main Streets Foundation and the JP Centre/South Main Streets, along with Delmar and his team collaborated on this effort.
“We decided to utilize human intelligence for the audio synchronization aspect of the show and re-establish our faith in the human spirit,” Delmar shared.
Important aspects of the show like sustaining the perfect level of brightness, getting the audio in sync with animated movement, and making sure the animations fit perfectly onto the structure of the church all took trial and error, Delmar explained.
Beginning this October, up until November, Delmar and his team worked on the script and architectural adaptation of the show. Despite the challenges of projection mapping, Delmar expressed his excitement for being a part of the new experience that was brought to the streets of Jamaica Plain.
“The whole team was very happy about that, you know, making a show that will last in the child’s memories,” Delmar said.
The show has brought holiday spirit to the community for around three years now, but it wasn’t always that way. In previous years, Jamaica Plain organizations such as the JP Business and Professional Association had long-sought ways to decorate the streets, but budget constraints were a significant hurdle, shared JP Centre/South Main Streets Executive Director Ginger Brown.
Brown, who played a pivotal role in bringing the light show to fruition, said the community often struggled with holiday decorations that met the neighborhood’s needs and expectations.
“Having banners and the light post was their number one goal but it was exorbitantly expensive, like $30,000 or $40,000 to do that for our little stretch of Center and South Street,” Brown explained.
Inspiration struck as Brown was on a holiday trip to Walt Disney World with her family in 2018. It was there that she found the perfect way to bring holiday cheer to Jamaica Plain.
“They have a big giant light show on their castle and I was like, ‘wow, this is what we need,’” Brown recounted. “It can be in one location and we just need one projector.”
Determined to turn the dream into a reality, the community initiated a crowdfunding campaign in 2019.
“We got a matching grant from the Boston Main Streets Foundation and we raised the money to buy the projector,” Brown said.
She emphasized the importance of community events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After the pandemic, any kind of event or show, or anything at all, that brings the community together really does matter in supporting the business district and supporting our community and residents,” Brown said.
Both families and residents alike ogled at the large display which featured the fabled white squirrel of Jamaica Plain. For local residents, seeing the rare white squirrel roam Jamaica Pond has become somewhat of a staple—so much so that the Jamaica Plain Music Festival has deemed the beloved white squirrel as its mascot.
“I had seen it when I was a kid once or twice,” recalled Jamaica Plain local Ross Grenier. “I didn’t realize how legendary it was but it does make sense that it is legendary if, you know, you’ve got a white squirrel sticking out like a sore thumb around JP.”
Grenier reminisced on their childhood in Jamaica Plain, saying they always enjoyed the spectacle of lights and decorations.
“I think it is a wonderful touch to have something so fun and vibrant going on,” they said. “I think it’s great for JP.”
Brown also expressed her love for the kind of community feel the light show brings.
“When families and kids come and see the show and they think, ‘this is where I belong’, ‘this is my neighborhood’, I feel like this show is doing its job,” Brown said. “There’s this sense of wonder and joy for the whole thing.”
Community organizations and artists involved in the light show look forward to expanding this effort so that other areas of Jamaica Plain, and other Boston towns, can experience the holiday spectacular.
“It’s our hope to do shows more often and in different locations,” Brown said. “It certainly puts our name out there but it builds a sense of community and belonging.”
This report was published in collaboration with the Boston University School of Communications School of Journalism. The journalism student is a member of a Reporting in Depth class taught by former Boston Globe reporter Meghan Irons.
Aniya Sumner is a student journalist at Boston University, concentrating in sports journalism and advertising. Sumner also writes for WTBU Sports, a student-run sports sector of the school’s radio station, you can find more of her written work here: https://sites.bu.edu/wtbu/author/ansumner/ .