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American Christmas: Bringing Holiday Magic to Life 365 Days of the Year

The Debbie Nigro Show

Release Date: 11/07/2023

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We’re already into Christmas? Didn’t I just take off my Halloween Costume? 

If like me, you’ve been feeling that the holiday season has been arriving earlier and earlier each year, it’s not your imagination. It has in fact been speeding up, because the businesses and destinations that invest in holiday displays invest a lot, says Dan Casterella, the Chief Executive Officer of American Christmas, and they want to capitalize on their investments.

American Christmas is the company behind the scenes creating the breathtaking holiday displays in 6 states including the iconic locations in NYC, like Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Macy's, and Radio City Music Hall.

I invited CEO Dan Casterella to stop by my radio show for a warm chat to give us all a peek behind the curtains in the world of American Christmas.


The Business of Christmas:

Located in Mount Vernon, New York, (my hometown) American Christmas is the company responsible for decorating some of the most famous holiday locations in the United States. But they're not just about tinsel and lights; they create immersive holiday experiences that enchant visitors and spread festive cheer. The feel-good power they have created there is undeniable. Anyone of any age who could use a lift should stop by.


From School to Christmas Wonderland:

Chief Executive Officer, Dan Castarella, has been part of this magical world for over two decades. His journey into the Christmas business began when he started decorating homes in high school and, after a short stint in college, decided to leave college and join American Christmas. His parents were honestly not thrilled with his choice, but his passion and talent for bringing the holiday spirit to life have paid off. (And now they get free Christmas Decorations) 


Creating the Magic:

American Christmas isn't just about decking the halls; it's a year-round operation. With a 15-month planning cycle for some clients, and two weeks for others depending on the type and scale of the job, the process is both meticulous and expansive. It takes hundreds of employees working across multiple states, including New York, Texas, California, Florida, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., to make these holiday displays a reality. The end goal is to help clients create a holiday brand identity and gift a spectacular experience to their communities.

Dan said, “For us, it’s Christmas 365. The day our takedown season is done, we start again refurbishing for the following year. Everyone thinks we see Santa Claus all year long, and it's anything but that. It’s mostly spreadsheets and a lot of marketing conversations.”


Bringing the Holiday To You:

For the second year in a row, American Christmas is offering the public a chance to experience their holiday magic with an event called "Holiday Lane." Located at 30 Warren Place in Mount Vernon, it's an immersive holiday experience that allows visitors to walk through a magical Christmas experience, pick up festive decorations, and even meet Santa Claus. It's open Wednesday to Sunday, making it accessible for families and anyone in need of a dose of holiday spirit. Santa will be there every Wednesday and Friday night at Holiday Lane from 6 to roughly 8pm.

Dan says, “We have a showroom for our commercial clients that’s about 4,000 square feet  and we open that up to the general public. You can buy tickets online to come and experience what we do at American Christmas. The tickets are inexpensive, because we’re trying to be family friendly and we’re donating 100% of the proceeds to three nonprofit charities in Mount Vernon, New York. The Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club, Northeast STEM Starter Academy of Mt. Vernon, and Youth Community Outreach Program of Mount Vernon.


Year-Round Christmas:

The holiday season lasts for just a few weeks, but the work at American Christmas is a year-round endeavor. Planning, designing, and building take months, ensuring that the magic happens on time. Then it all boils down to a very hectic nine-week season when everything comes to life. 


Color Trends and Decorating Styles:

Each year, American Christmas helps its clients embrace various color themes and decorating styles. This year pink has been a popular choice, inspired by the Barbie. Trend.  But natural woodlands themes, traditional reds, and golds, and even New Orleans-style Mardi Gras displays have their place in the holiday lineup. Their Christmas store on premise is just fabulous and you’ll wish you knew about it sooner if you didn’t know about it already .


There’s Some New Christmas Technology: 

“The new thing”, says Dan, “is RGB technology where we can control the lights and build a show around the Christmas Lights. It’s not that popular in New York because New Yorkers like to keep Christmas traditional with ribbons, bows, and ornaments but it’s popular for us around the country. This year for example we have a 50-foot tree at the Tanger Outlet in Tennessee that’s an RGB show with programmable alights and we run a three-minute loop with a show on the tree.”


Holding the Holiday Line:

American Christmas does end for most of their clients by January 15th when the company finalizes their ‘take down’ portion of process for all the decorations they’ve put up. However, we all have seen some outdoor trees stay wrapped with white lights throughout the winter, bringing much needed warmth and joy to the dark months which is fine by me.


A Business That Spreads Joy:

The holiday season may start earlier each year, but the goal is to spread joy and create memorable experiences. Something we could all use a little more of these days for sure. The work of American Christmas brings a touch of magic to all of our lives.

American Christmas is more than just a company; it's a team of dedicated professionals who spend all year working to make the holiday season unforgettable. From design to installation and takedown, their business keeps the magic of Christmas alive year after year.

If you find yourself in Mount Vernon, N.Y., don't miss the chance to visit Holiday Lane and experience the enchantment for yourself.


I hope you enjoy this podcast of my live conversation on The Debbie Nigro Show with Dan Casterella, the Chief Executive Officer of American Christmas. It's uplifting!