If you enjoy walking or driving around neighbourhoods checking out Christmas lights, the Kinsmen’s Light Up St. Albert contest revealed quite a few eye-poppers that took months of work to prepare.
Once again Elliot Place rated the top score as Most Festive Street with its arches, diversity of Christmas characters and thousands of lights illuminating the street. The prize is $1,000 and is destined for St. Albert Food Bank.
Steve and Amanda Hargreaves of 16 Elliot Place nabbed the Most Festive Home award by recreating the movie Elf, starring Will Ferrell.
“It’s a classic light-hearted comedy and it brings life to the innocence of Christmas and that’s what Christmas is about. It brings back the innocence of when you’re a kid,” said Steve Hargreaves.
The couple has gone over and above to create that wow factor. He estimates there are 30,000 lights in his front yard with 4,000 just strung on a 40-foot tall spruce that is a stand-in for the movie’s Rockefeller tree.
This past year, Hargreaves purchased a sleigh that dates back to 1839 from a Morinville couple.
“The detail was unbelievable. It was painted black, and I sanded it down to its original wood-aged patina and painted it red.”
In addition, the Hargreaves house and car is strung with a series of LED programmable lights.
“When the car is parked in the driveway, it matches the house.”
For the Hargreaves family, all the work amounts to linking like-minded people together.
“It’s about putting smiles on the faces of children and it’s something that connects people. On our street, people of all different races and religions come down. Everyone pulls together and there are so many conversations with people.”
The Hargreaves couple was awarded $500 which they plan to donate to WIN House.
Two new categories were added this year: Most Festive New Home, first place and Most Festive New Home, second place.
Terry Meek and her partner Wade Shankoff of 33 Woodlands Road received first place for Most Festive New Home.
“We were kind of shocked when we got the email. We’re all about being bright and merry and having fun. But with so many houses out there looking so professional, we didn’t expect it. Ours is just fun for all age groups. We tried to make it look festive for children during the day and at night we put music on for passersby,” said Meek.
She describes it as a teddy bear wonderland with about 60 to 70 loveable stuffies in various scenes. There are teddy bears on sleds, teddies on ski hills, and teddies sitting on trees. More teddies live in an igloo, ride a reindeer and a giant teddy bear dubbed The Captain overlooks the entire front yard.
“I think they make people smile. They’re cute. They’re warm. They’re cuddly and kids just gravitate to them. When little kids walk by, they will sometimes hold one of their paws. We even have a mailbox for Santa and we reply to all letters. It takes a bit of work to put it up, but the kids love it, and it spreads Christmas cheer.”
Meek and Shankoff received $500 of which they will donate half to SAIF’s Child Play Therapy Program.
Norm Pethick of 39 Dean Crescent won second-place accolades in the Most Festive New Home. He also entered last year, but did not receive a mention.
This year he’s run LED lights along eavestroughs and has installed more than 40 ornaments in his front yard. In this woodland setting, viewers can expect to see deer, penguins, a polar bear and a moose. The yard also showcases spiral trees, a carousel horse, Frosty the Snowman, candy canes, gingerbread men and a Nutcracker.
The Pethick family also loves decorating their home for Halloween.
“At that time, kids living down the street started asking when we would be starting to put up Christmas decorations. We were thinking of minimizing this year, but who can say no to children?” said Pethick.
He has decorated his home for close to 40 years each time adding a new ornament. Since retiring 20 years ago, Pethick spends more time working on decorations and this year he added a train with a raccoon.
Originally from Cold Lake, the family moved to St. Albert 35 years ago. As second place winner, Pethick receives $300. He is donating the full amount to Sturgeon Hospital.
“We’ve had to use the hospital on occasion and all our grandchildren were born in the hospital. We thought it was a good charity to help.”