Foryears now Jim Elliott has mapped out and shared Red Deer’s ultimate Christmas light tour — with help the past few years from his sons AJ and Matthew, ages 15 and 12.
So it’s surprising to learn that he doesn’t actually decorate the exterior of his own house. He’s been busy enough figuring out the route every year, which he shares with the public. And this year has been even busier for Elliott, as he battles through some major health challenges, including separate triple bypass heart and spine surgeries.
But it hasn’t stopped him or his boys from making sure the 2016 version of the light tour was mapped.
Elliott drove a City of Red Deer Transit bus for 25 years, and has worked for the city for a total of 38 years. He expects to be back at work in 2017 where he works at the front information desk at City Hall.
The light tour began about 14 years ago for Elliott when he used to hire four city buses to take kids and families from the Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre (formerly the Children’s Service Centre) for a tour of the lights.
The route the Elliotts map is a larger and more comprehensive one than the one the Red Deer Kinsmen and Kinettes offer free to seniors every year.
The Elliotts say their route is fun to do, especially on Christmas Eve, but can be enjoyed anytime during the festive season. Bringing along a map and navigator is helpful.
There are more than a few stories behind some of the light productions.
Take John Kesseler and Bonnie MacRae for example, who live at 56 Fern Road.
Three years ago the couple put out one inflatable polar bear at Christmas to delight their granddaughter. It’s morphed into 17 different inflatables now that take up their entire yard.
Kesseler searched far and wide online and has bought inflatables from as far away as Texas and Quebec, and his collection now includes a nutcracker character, the Grinch and his dog Max, and Snoopy, and more of course.
The couple estimates it costs an extra $75 for the power used during the season to inflate and also power the 3,000 lights and music used in their display. The whole thing is on different timers so when the inflation starts each day there’s not too big of a draw on the power at once.
Since their yard is full, they have already received permission from their neighbours to expand into their yards as the collection continues to grow.