Red Deer residents Dawn and Andrew Legault create a whole yard-full of Christmas spirit at 234 Cornett Drive in Clearview Meadows. (Photo by Byron Hackett/Advocate staff)

Red Deer residents Dawn and Andrew Legault create a whole yard-full of Christmas spirit at 234 Cornett Drive in Clearview Meadows. (Photo by Byron Hackett/Advocate staff)

Red Deerians light up festive yards to dispel pandemic darkness

They are inspired to spread some joy

As a boy, Bill Lyon marvelled over “a whole neighbourhood” of lit-up Christmas displays in his native Brandon, Man.

“I thought it was the neatest thing in the world,” recalled the Red Deer resident. “I thought, I’d like to see that where I live…”

Now that Lyon has kids of his own, his festooned yard at 107 Barrett Drive has been amazing starry-eyed passersby.

During this pandemic holiday season, when the Christmas spirit can be in as short supply as many store items, people from across the city are coming to see larger-than-life Star Wars characters and Santa-themed movie projections.

Lyon said he’s taken a cue from the creative display a few houses down, at 211 Barrett Drive.

That perennially popular yard spotlights a jolly Santa Claus bringing presents to the house while the Grinch takes parcels out the chimney and sends them down a conveyor belt to his own dog-drawn sleigh.

“Every Christmas, his yard is amazing. I was inspired,” said Lyon, who’s noticed more homes going big with Christmas decorations — including a colourful array at 415 Barrett Drive.

Although he also tends to go all-out on Halloween decorations, Lyon believes in spreading the joy at Christmas — especially during this time of COVID-19 when there are fewer things to get excited about.

“I love seeing kids’ faces light up… And I also see a lot of adults who say it’s phenomenal seeing so much Christmas and so much joy — especially in these times.”

Across the city in Clearview Meadows, Dawn and Andrew Legault have been creating a wonderland for all ages at 234 Cornett Drive for 17 years.

From Snoopy and Big Bird to a working homemade ferris wheel and wooden helicopter, it’s hard to know what to look at first in the elaborate 75-item display.

Dawn’s favourite decoration is a six-foot lighted unicorn that stands near the house. It’s a replacement for a previous fabled creature that was stolen from the yard three years ago.

While that incident was disappointing, she believes the painstaking display has been well worth it, bringing joy to people — especially now that a lot of other Christmas activities are curtailed, due to viral spread.

She added the yard display is also helping the Red Deer Food Bank through a drop-off donations box. “Over the years, we’ve collected 241 pounds of food and $100…”

Although the couple’s grandchildren don’t live in Red Deer, decorating for the holidays is a labour of love for the Legaults, who enjoy seeing strangers stop and smile.

The figures and lights take about 25 hours to set up every year. Through this effort, Dawn has met many area residents who have expressed their delight and thanks.

A neighbour even assists Andrew in creating new Christmas decorations nearly every year, said Dawn.

But his interest stops there. When it comes to decorating his own yard — which is right next to the Legaults — the neighbour simply erects a Grinch cut-out who’s either appearing to steal Christmas lights from next door, or is holding up a sign saying “Ditto.”

Several other houses along Cornett Drive also have impressive light displays — as do other homes throughout the city. For a street full of them, check out Ohio Close, in Oriole Park, where most properties are decorated for the holidays.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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In Clearview Meadows, Dawn and Andrew Legault have been creating a bright holiday wonderland for all ages at 234 Cornett Drive for 17 years. (Photo by Byron Hackett/Advocate staff)

In Clearview Meadows, Dawn and Andrew Legault have been creating a bright holiday wonderland for all ages at 234 Cornett Drive for 17 years. (Photo by Byron Hackett/Advocate staff)

In Clearview Meadows, Dawn and Andrew Legault have been creating a wonderland for all ages at 234 Cornett Drive for 17 years. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

In Clearview Meadows, Dawn and Andrew Legault have been creating a wonderland for all ages at 234 Cornett Drive for 17 years. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Bill Lyon has decorated his front lawn at 107 Barrett Drive in Red Deer. (Contributed photo)

Bill Lyon has decorated his front lawn at 107 Barrett Drive in Red Deer. (Contributed photo)