The anticipation is growing on Elliot Place, but so far, most of the 17 residents who reside there are waiting patiently for Dec. 1, before they turn on St. Albert’s best light show.
“It’s all ready to go. Most people started working on putting out their displays back in October and every weekend, most of us have been out there. The snow might make a difference, but most of us turn the switch on Dec. 1. The collection for the food bank also begins that day,” said Michel Bourgeois.
Bourgeois has been putting up his light display for at least 20 years and says way back, when all his neighbours first moved in, a collective decorating scheme got started. Over the years, the displays have become a little more “out there” and getting it all together is a lot of fun.
“It pretty much started right from the beginning when we moved in. It is a little bit competitive. We’re all out there looking to see all the new stuff the other guys have out. We want to see what the coolest new things are. This year, one guy has pink pigs on his lawn. It’s crazy,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois admits he gets a little “crazy” when he glams up his own house. He hires a man-lift to put the lights on top of his 80-foot spruce trees at a cost of several hundred dollars. The process provokes kibitzing among neighbours and a lot of laughter.
“It used to be when the tree was smaller, I put a star on top. But now the tree is so big, the star fell part way down the tree. So I left it there, and the neighbours tell me it’s a fallen star,” Bourgeois said.
The tree’s growth also meant he had to find a different space for some of the wire lawn deer so this year he stuck two of them up on his garage. He notes that a lot of his neighbours’ decorations on Elliot Place have moved down a notch from the upper roofs of the homes onto the garage roof.
“It’s a little safer. The garage is only six or seven feet high,” he said.
Bourgeois estimates he has at least 80 strings of LED lights.
“I switched this year to LED lights because the old incandescent ones kept throwing a breaker,” he said, adding he started scouring stores right after Christmas looking for bargains.
In the stores
One of the newest gadgets to be seen this year will be the laser projectors that cast a starry light on the house. These projectors can be pricy, with the Starlight Series going for almost $200 in local stores, if you can find one.
“The laser projectors are something right now that we can’t keep on the shelves,” said Canadian Tire seasonal manager Jessie Van Dam.
The projectors solve a lot of problems for those who don’t wish to climb up on their roof, but Home Depot was also sold out of the things. Instead Home Depot had a string of golf-ball-shaped lights that were labelled “projectors” because they cast a wider glow than a normal string of lights. They would still have to be strung along a surface or on a tree.
Some of the Shooting Star icicle-shaped lights provide the effect of falling light. The newer rainbow colours add to the effect.
Tiny solid-coloured lights that are smaller than a marble and look like little pin pricks when they are turned on, add a hint of light and colour in the background, Van Dam suggested.
“A lot of people string them along a fence,” she said, adding that for any string of lights, the rule of thumb when decorating a tree is to have one string of lights for every foot of height.
The best thing about decorating en masse, as they do on Elliot Place is the reaction from those who come to visit, Bourgeois said.
“I do it for my grandkids but people come and they actually thank us. Can you believe that? They thank us and some of them come back four or five times in the month. We’ve had buses filled with seniors and sometimes, because this is a small crescent, we have to get together and give them a push to get out. And that’s fun too,” Bourgeois said.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the St. Albert Food Bank may drop donations at 9 Elliot Place. The neighbours on the street normally turn their lights on at 5 p.m. and leave them on until 11 p.m.