Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Jim Elliott creates Red Deer’s self-guided Christmas Lights Tour with his son.

Red Deer man helps light up the holidays for others (with directions for self-guided tour)

Jim Elliott’s in his 15th year of mapping the city’s most magical, lit-up homes

The Grinch stealing presents and running them down a ladder on Barrett Drive is featured in one of Jim Elliott’s favourite Christmas light displays.

You can trust it’s a holiday spectacle, since Elliott knows exactly what Red Deer has to offer in the way of sparkling seasonal yard decorations.

Every December for the past 15 years, the City of Red Deer worker and his son A.J. have driven “practically every street in Red Deer,” mapping out which have the most magical, lit-up homes.

It all started when Elliott decided to charter some buses to take disabled children and their parents on free Christmas light tours of the city, and it continued when he was guiding around clients of the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter.

While Elliott no longer rents buses, he continues to make his updated maps of Christmas light-festooned streets available to the public for self-guided tours. His routes are also used for a Kinsmen-sponsored accessible seniors bus tour that leaves the Golden Circle at 5 p.m. on Tuesday (call 403-343-6074 to register).

Elliott never had the chance to see many Christmas lights when he was a kid: “My parents were dirt poor farmers. We had no money. At Christmastime, my dad would go into the bush and cut down a tree and my mom would decorate it with popcorn, or whatever we could afford.”

With seven children to feed, his parents had little leftover money for the holidays.

After moving to Red Deer and getting a job with the city — where Elliott has worked in various capacities for more than four decades — he decided “enough of that. I wanted to do something special for others.”

Every year, Elliott throws a Christmas party for the kids, parents and staff of the Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre. He also tries to make a difference in the community at large.

The other day, Elliott witnessed a little boy pointing at Christmas merchandise and his father shaking his head, saying they had no money for it.

“I slipped a five dollar bill into the dad’s hand and he bought the boy an advent calendar. He was so excited.”

Elliott is gratified whenever somebody thanks him for providing the routes for a beautiful Christmas light tour.

This year, Inglewood, Vanier Woods and Lancaster were added to it. Because “people can handle only so much,” Elliott has broken the city’s three-hour tour into one-hour parts.

The brightest attractions are in more established neighbourhoods — including the perennial favourite, Ohio Close in Oriole Park, and the homes along Michener Green.

“Every single house is decorated, just like Candy Cane Lane in Edmonton,” said Elliott, who also admires this year’s expanded display along Cornett Drive in Clearview.

“It’s just beautiful. You can’t believe it.”

2018 Christmas Light Tour: Section A

Start: Donald School of Business (4909 49 Street), east on 49 Street, L on 47 Avenue, L on Ross Street, (take special note of the lighting around City Hall and the Park – beautiful), R on Taylor Drive, R on Kerry Wood Drive, L on 60 Street, L on 60 Avenue, L on 55 Street, R on Kerry Wood Drive, R on Fir Street, L on Fern Road, R on Kerry Wood Drive, on to Oak Drive, R on Overdown Drive, R on Ohio Close (almost the entire close is decorated – breathtaking), continue around the Close, R on Overdown Drive, on to Oleander Drive, L on Taylor Drive, R on Grant Street, L on 59 Avenue, R on Gunn Street, R on Glendale Boulevard, R on Grant Street, L on 59 Avenue, L on 71 Street, R on Northey Avenue, L on Nash Street, L on Nyberg Avenue, R on Niven Street, L on Nance Avenue, L on Nolan Street, R on Noble Avenue, R on Nurse Street, R on Norton Avenue, L on Norquay Street, L on Nordegg Crescent, R on Norton Avenue, R on 76 Street, R on Gaetz Avenue, L on Phelan Street, L on Parke Avenue, R on Page Avenue, R on Pamely Avenue, R on 67 Street, L on Gaetz Avenue, back to downtown (passing through the old Gaetz Avenue by Wei’s Western Wear), L on 49 Street, returning to Donald School of Business.

2018 Christmas Light Tour: Section B

Start: Donald School of Business, L on 47 Avenue, L on Ross Stree, L on Gaetz Avenue, R on 46 Street, L on 51 Avenue, on to Gaetz Avenue, L on Boyce Street, R on Barrett Drive, L on Bettenson Street, R on Baines Crescent, around the Crescent (exceptional), R on Bettenson Street, R on Barner Avenue, L on Baird Street, R on Barrett Drive, travel all the way around to, R on Baird Street, L on Barrett Drive, L on Molly Bannister Drive, R on Bremner Avenue, R on 30 Street, L on 47 Avenue, R on 32 Street, L on 43 Avenue, L on 35 Street, R on 45 Avenue, R on 37 Street, L on 43 Avenue, R on 39 Street, R on 40 Avenue, L on McBride Crescent, R on Malcolm Crescent, R on McConnell Close, around the close, R on Malcolm Crescent, L on Mitchell Avenue, on to 38 Avenue, R on service road on the north side of 39 Street, L on Edgington Close, around the close, R on Service Road, R on 35A Avenue, R on 35 Avenue, R on 44 Street, on to Excell Street, R on Ellenwood Drive, L on 39 Street, L on 30 Avenue L on Ellenwood Drive, R on Erickson Drive, on to Cornett Drive, L on Clark Crescent, R on Castle Crescent, continue to, L on Castle Crescent, around the close, R on Castle Crescent, L on Clark Crescent, L on Cornett Drive, R on Carroll Crescent, into Legacy Estates, around the parking lot, back out to Carroll Crescent, R on Cornett Drive, on to Rollis Street, L on Ray Avenue, L on the second entrance to Richards Crescent, R on Russell Crescent, on to Ramsay Avenue, L on Rutledge Crescent, L on Randolph Street, L on Robinson Crescent, L on Reinholdt Avenue, L on Reichley Street, R on 55 Street, on to Highway 11, to the Parkland Garden Centre (Ice sculptures are normally installed about a week before Christmas, weather permitting.)

2018 Christmas Light Tour: Section C

Start: Parkland Garden Centre, R on Highway 11, on to 55 Street, L on Reichley Street, L on Rideout Avenue, on to Donlevy Avenue, L on Dempsey Street, on to Duston Street, L on Deschner Close, around the Close counter-clockwise, L on Dynes Street, R on Deschner Close, L on Duston Street, L on Douglas Avenue, on to Lockwood Avenue, L on Lamont Close, around the Close, R on Lockwood Avenue, L on 32 Street, R on 30 Avenue, L on Ross Street, R on 38 Avenue, R on 50A Street, L on Michener Crescent, R on Michener Green (Michener Green could easily be called Red Deer’s own Candy Cane Lane – absolutely every home is decorated), R on Michener Crescent, L on 38A Avenue, R on 50A Street, L on 39 Avenue, R on Ross Street, returning to City Hall.

Also, time permitting, check out Heritage Ranch. You will experience a real winter wonderland! Enjoy a Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride through a 40,000 plus Holiday Light Display! Complete with Hot Chocolate and Blankets for every Guest. Private Ride options are also available. Every Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Enjoy!

Your children will love it!

A.J. and Jim Elliott…

Christmas holiday

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One of the impressive light displays that can be seen along Cornett Drive in Red Deer. (Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff).

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