Carla Fraser and husband Brad McLean have spent the last eight years actively engaged in a love-affair with their childhood memories of Christmas lights.
They have a ridiculous number of lights of their own now, (last count was 40,000) and a wide array of child-friendly characters, which they hope create positive memories for the children who come past their Brookswood home during the holiday season.
In the early years, the couple was sitting at about 8,000 lights and a few items in the yard.
Then, they sat down to discuss what the future would be with this holiday hobby.
“We needed to decide if we were going to stop buying stuff or go full tilt and be the crazy Christmas people,” Fraser said.
“It’s obvious which way we went.”
Now their house at 20681 44th Ave. is a beacon, not just of light, but of hope as well.
They call it Wish Upon a Star.
“We had to pick a charity,” she noted. “You don’t normally get a chance to do that. To actually get the opportunity to gather enough money to write a big cheque. It’s kind of cool.”
People who come by the house from 5 p.m. to midnight (up to Dec. 31) often leave a donation. Some large amounts. Some small amounts.
It all matters. And for different reasons.
For Fraser and McLean, they have directly witnessed the need for the help their chosen charity – B.C. Children’s Hospital – provides.
They’ve had family members who needed that care.
“They [the hospital] saved their lives,” Fraser said.
While some donations are quietly slipped into the box without fanfare, other families see an opportunity in the moment of enjoying the lights combined with the ability to donate.
“Parents also use it as an opportunity for teaching kids about Children’s Hospital,” she noted. “Sometimes they give the kids the money to deposit.”
Regardless of whether viewers donate or not, Fraser and McLean love the delight they bring to families – and especially the children.
They reached back into another shared memory, of the stop-motion Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie – for their inspiration.
“We thought, what if we just centred it around the movie,” said Fraser. “We started accumulating Rudolph and the misfit toys.”
Now all the toys come to life in front of their home, along with another of that classic movie’s stars: Santa Claus.
“My husband decided Santa needed to fly,” she said. “Santa flies every three minutes. The kids, they love that. They just start shrieking when Santa flies.”
There was never an intention to incorporate rhythmic music, light setups, holograms, or the types of things adults want to see. The display has been first and foremost for kids.
“Every time we heard a child laugh or squeal, it just motivated us more,” noted Fraser.
“He likes to tinker,” she said of her husband. “You can have a conversation with our snowman. He plays different carols based on request.”
Despite what some might think, McLean said her power bill doesn’t go through the roof to make way for Rudoph, Santa, and all the lights.
They make use of primarily LED lights and her husband’s skills keep power use low for the objects that move.
Their page at www.facebook.com/wishuponastarchristmas illustrates the positive comments and appreciation offered by those who have visited.
• Christmas lights to fight cancer: 4 to 10 p.m. nightly to Dec. 26, 19056 63B Ave. The Wagner family display supports the Canadian Cancer Society. Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, volunteers serve coffee, hot chocolate and candy canes by donation. Info: facebook.com/events/792543307558831.
• Tour of lights: 6 to 9 p.m., every Friday and Saturday until Christmas, Wagner Hills Women’s Campus, 460 216th St. Enjoy music, a petting zoo, snacks, a market, and the tour of lights. Info: wagnerhills.com.
• Peterse display: 5 to 10 p.m., nightly to Jan. 3, 4086 205B St. A sign at the home shows the FM station to use to hear the music that is synchronized to 30,000 LED lights.
• Land of Christmas: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Dec. 1 to 26, 20169 32nd Ave. Miller family’s display of lights, a mini train ride, a 39-foot pirate ship, fires, hot cocoa and mini donuts, and more. Admission by donation. Santa visits 6 to 8 p.m. Info: the-land-of-christmas.webs.com.
• Wish Upon a Star: 5 p.m. to midnight, to Dec. 31, 20681 44th Ave. More than 40,000 lights, figures, Santa and his sleigh, musical snowman, and hot chocolate. Donations go to B.C. Children’s Hospital. Info: facebook.com/wishuponastarchristmas.
• Basran family: 5 to 10:15 p.m. nightly, 2328 Wakefield Dr.
• Langley Meadows: 2924 Wiggins Place. Blow ups, lights and music with more added daily.
• Walnut Grove: 206th Street and 91A Ave.
• Sight and sound: 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday to Jan. 4, 20997 86A Ave. Listen to synched music on 99.7 FM. Open until midnight Dec. 24, 25 and 26.
• Festive lights: 6 to 11 p.m. nightly to Jan. 3, 19646 49th Ave. More than 20,000 lights flash in time to music. Display includes animated features and more.
• Tree of Hope: evenings until New Years, 22011 88th Ave. The Redwoods Golf Course has built the 21-foot tree in memory of course founder Larry Hope. The public is welcome to stop in.
• Animated lights: 4 to 10 p.m., Sunday to Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, to Jan. 5, (noon to 11 p.m. on Dec. 24, 25 and 26), 9241 213th St. Computer controlled show with more than 15,000 lights, leaping arches, a 15-foot spiral tree and animated singing trees.