Sandwich’s ‘Gibbsville at Kayla’s’ Light Display Has Brought Holiday Cheer for Over 50 Years
Generation after generation of holiday fun seekers have passed through the gates of Gibbsville over the past half-century, as this one Sandwich, Massachusetts yard becomes a Christmas town of its own each year.
To find this delightful destination, you’ll want to set your GPS at 339 Route 6A in the Cape Cod town of Sandwich, directly across from the end of Quaker Meeting House Road – but as you get closer, the multicolored glow emanating from Gibbsville at Kayla’s will let you know exactly where to go.
The displays are lit up weeknights from dusk until 9 p.m., and weekend nights from dusk until 10 p.m. It will remain up until Little Christmas on January 6.
It’s free to walk through the yard, but they do ask that you bring a donation of some canned goods for the Sandwich Food Pantry, which the family has collected each year since the beginning.
The History of "Gibbsville" in Sandwich, Massachusetts
The late Dorothy Gibbs began the display over 50 years ago, when her daughter Tammy Gibbs was just a small child.
“Back then, she used to only do the right side of the yard, up in the front,” Gibbs said. “She started with a manger and a wooden church. She was a bus driver for Upper Cape (Voc-Tech), so some of the students made her some skaters, which she put on a piece of plywood in the side yard, lit up with some candles.”
As Gibbs got older, she helped her mother create some of the wooden characters still found around the yard.
About 26 years ago – the year after their daughter, Kayla, was born – Gibbs and her husband Brian Thierwechter took over from her mother.
“He made all the wooden characters from then on,” she said. “He put ours down back, the Mickey Mouse, the Sesame Street, they’re nothing like the ones you see that he made like Beauty and the Beast, Paw Patrol, all the other characters that are a lot nicer than what we made.”
When Dorothy Gibbs passed away three years ago, Kayla purchased the house and has continued the annual holiday tradition.
“That’s one of the reasons she wanted to buy it,” Gibbs said. “She’s added things such as the homemade fences, the lights around the swan pond. She’s put in all those extra added touches.”
Although the display around the property had always been called “Gibbsville,” Gibbs said because of the amount of work her daughter has put into upgrading and preserving the display, her name should be on it, too – so it became “Gibbsville at Kayla’s.”
“She put in a lot of her own hours, time, effort and money, so we thought she should be recognized,” Gibbs said.
It Takes Months to Get Gibbsville Ready
While the family normally starts working on getting the display together in mid-October, this year they didn’t start until the week before Thanksgiving.
“We were a little bit late setting up this year. We built the Cape Cod BMX track in Sandwich last year, and this year was the first full year for it,” Gibbs said. “We’re very busy over there, and it took up a lot of our time.”
But there was another good reason why Gibbsville got a late start this season.
“Unfortunately, my cancer came back, so I spent a lot of time in Boston,” Gibbs said.
Although originally Gibbsville featured all wooden characters from Christmas stories and pop culture, in recent years the family has added inflatable displays to the yard such as Star Wars, the Grinch, snowmen and polar bears.
“My husband doesn’t like blow ups. He thinks it takes away wooden characters,” Gibbs said. “But we don’t have time to keep up with the current characters, and this is the easier way to do it.”
In the back of the yard, there is an inflatable archway, unicorns and rainbow-colored inflatables.
“Kayla likes to have that because she has some friends that are (LGBTQ+),” Gibbs said.
It’s not just the family that puts everything up, though. They have a group of 10 friends who help each year, and they also hire a few kids from the BMX track to help out.
“It’s very time consuming,” Gibbs said. “It’s not just setting up the displays. It’s connecting all the connections, all the extension cords. That takes forever.”
Powering Up Gibbsville
There are three different electrical panels that power up the displays, and Gibbs said it costs about $1000-$1200 to run all the electricity for the season.
That’s if no other electrical issues arise, such as what happened this year.
“In addition to getting a late start setting up, we kept on having electrical issues,” Gibbs said, “It turns out we had a faulty neutral coming in from an Eversource transformer, which helped blow the panel.”
“We had to have Eversource come to fix that, then have an electrician put in a brand new panel. It was just delay after delay,” she said.
Santa May Return to Gibbsville
Gibbsville used to have the real live Santa Claus at the holiday display each night for children to pose for photos and to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.
“My mom did that once we expanded the yard. It was more for those less fortunate families, and for those that couldn’t go to Edaville,” Gibbs said. “We reached out to local women’s shelters at that time, and we’d bring them up and have them take pictures with Santa.”
“We may go back to that at some time, but that’s just more commitment on our part,” Gibbs said. “Maybe next year or the year after.”
A Gift for the People of Sandwich and Beyond
The Thierwechter-Gibbs family sacrifices a lot of its own holiday season to put on the Gibbsville at Kayla’s display, but they do it for the love of seeing the look on kids’ faces as they pass through.
“As everyone is enjoying the holiday, it’s a lot of work for us,” Gibbs said. “Besides just setting it up, we have to have someone there to watch the lights, to make sure nothing goes wrong.”
And then there is the cleanup. Once the season is over on January 6, everything will be tucked away into Rubbermaid bins and put into storage units on the property, waiting for next year and the chance to once again bring some holiday magic to Route 6A.