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Holiday lights brighten Bangor neighborhood and hospital's NICU

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BANGOR - Christmas is one of the biggest memory-making holidays of the year for young and old alike. But if you have ever had the unfortunate experience of losing a loved one on or around the holiday, it can be one of the most difficult times of the year to celebrate. Rick Hathaway of Bangor knows that feeling all too well.

"Three years ago my wife had twins born at 29 weeks. My son Alex passed away from complications from prematurity, but our son Warren is 3 and a half now and is doing very well," said Hathaway.

The family spent 51 days going back and forth to Eastern Maine Medical Center to visit Warren while he remained in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU.

"The men and women who work in the NICU are like a second family," said Hathaway. "The passion that they give toward every kid and family is amazing. We still keep in touch with the nurses that helped Warren."

The Hathaway family is so thankful for the NICU team that they decided to express their gratitude with a giant Christmas light display outside their Hillview Drive home. For the past three years, Rick has rented a boom truck and rounded up friends and family members to help him set up approximately 25,000 lights, all of which are strategically set to Christmas music. Motorists within 50 yards of the home can tune into the FM signal to see and hear this massive holiday show in all its splendor. The family has also set out a red stocking to collect donations for the NICU and has even provided self-addressed stamped envelopes for visitors who'd feel more comfortable mailing their donations directly to the Eastern Maine Healthcare Foundation.

"It's just a way for us to bring holiday cheer to a good cause and give back to thank them for everything they do," said Hathaway. "Last year we collected around $3,000. This year we've done really well. I'm guessing we're going to top around $6,000.

The Hathaway holiday light display, which can be seen at 21 Hillview Drive nightly from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m., will remain up until a few days after Christmas, for those who'd like to celebrate the season while also honoring little Alex's memory.

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