The Santa designs are up on Elliot Place and the arches are sparkling because this weekend the lights will be turned on for the first of hundreds of visitors at this magical crescent. Elliot Place is a small street but the display these neighbours put up is huge.
“We’ve been doing this for at least 10 years – maybe more,” said Rein Selles. Selles lives at #9 Elliot Place. He’s the guy that collects the food for the food bank.
“Last year we collected 1,200 lbs. of food,” he said.
In addition to lighting up their own homes, there are 30 arches to put up, and everyone participates.
“It started one night years ago when some of us were sitting on the driveway having a drink. We started talking about how we could liven up our Christmas displays and we got the idea to have a contest to see who could have the best displays,” said Michel Bourgeois.
The neighbours invited a friend to judge the homes. The perceived “winner” got a small prize. Along the way the contest component was dropped but each year the decorations grew more and more artistic as the residents noticed people were visiting their street to share the seasonal joy.
“Word spread about it and all of a sudden one year, there were people walking under the archways,” Bourgeois said.
Of course neighbours have moved in and out of the crescent and that keeps the décor fresh.
“There’s a kind of inherent obligation, or guilt if you will, to take part,” said Selles adding that two newcomers this year have joined in wholeheartedly.
“People hear they are moving onto a block that is very Christmassy. It’s a way to get to know our neighbours better. There are other benefits, especially when the seniors’ buses visit because the seniors enjoy it so much,” Bourgeois said.
Both men said their own displays are set up a little closer to the ground this year, because they no longer wish to climb up on the roof. Still they go all out and like everyone who visits, they enjoy the spirit that the street evokes.
New things to see on Elliot Place this year are a home with a candy cane lane leading to Christmas Town, where Santa Claus studies a huge list. Another home has open living room windows and as you peek inside, you might see a projected scene showing Santa Claus getting out his bag of toys.
Sellles expects up to 500 cars per night will visit his street and because it’s a small crescent, he recommends parking and walking down to the displays.
People interested in seeing the lights can park at nearby École Alexandre-Taché. The lights on Elliot Place are usually turned on from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., but timing varies from neighbour to neighbour.
“Please bring a donation for the food bank,” Selles said.
Please note: An earlier version of this story had incorrect information about where visitors can park to see the lights. The nearby school École Alexandre-Taché has available parking.