What started with a dollhouse and a deer has grown into a Christmas display that many have made visiting an annual tradition.
A pre-opening visit to the South Surrey home of Bonnie and Ken Fletcher – at 15499 22 Ave. – leaves no doubt the effort expended over the past two decades to light up the holiday season has been anything short of a labour of love.
“We just hope everybody enjoys,” Ken says, looking around at the countless lights, figurines, inflatables and animated treasures that he and Bonnie have accumulated over the years to create a display that now covers their entire front yard, garage, roof, driveway and windows – and even their neighbour’s yard.
“There’s so much, that they don’t always see everything,” Bonnie says of visitors who ask if one particular item or another is new.
Just a couple of days before the display was scheduled to begin its nightly appearance (it’s officially open as of tomorrow), Bonnie admitted she isn’t quite done with the details. She added an animated elves-at-work element to the garage on Tuesday, and said a bedroom window is still lacking its holiday lustre.
“(Ken) said you can’t see it, but I know it’s there,” she laughed.
This year is likely the last time the Fletchers will go to the lengths that many have come to expect for the holidays. Their house – which they bought new about 40 years ago – needs a new roof, which means the ‘stage’ that has long-boasted a homemade, illuminated Canadian flag, Santa and his reindeer, a Christmas train and sundry other holiday items, will no longer be available.
And while it may be difficult to picture a scaled-down version, the Fletchers insist they will be downsizing.
“We’re not going to be putting things onto a new roof,” Bonnie said.
Bonnie described Christmas as a special time for her family; her favourite time of the year.
Interacting with visitors to the display, she said, only adds to the occasion.
“There’s so many different stories out there,” she said. “One that stands out is a guy brought his dad, and he thought it might’ve been his last year he could do it.
“We always hear, ‘don’t close it down – it’s a tradition.’”
A particularly important aspect for the Fletchers is the funds the display helps raise for Sources White Rock & South Surrey Food Bank. In its first year, just over $1,000 was raised. In more recent years, the total for the month has reached $4,000.
Bonnie noted that future years’ displays are “still going to be well-worth seeing.”
New this year are a giant inflatable at the home’s front entrance, and a small minion.
Starting today, the display is open from 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 5-10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday.
Other local displays to check out include that of Mike and Alison Bodnarchuk, at 2513 141 St. The festive arrangement is lit up from 5-10 p.m., with 40,000 lights, a “huge” Christmas tree, a nativity scene and inflatables, as well as three-foot ornaments hanging from the house.
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