ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE — This town’s much-loved Christmas house will dazzle for one more season beginning on Saturday.
Alfred and Cheryl von Hollen have turned their home and yard into a Central Alberta Yuletide beacon for years.
Alfred said a desire to do more travelling and the work involved in stringing tens of thousands of lights and inflating dozens of figures convinced him to pack up his electric ornaments when the plug is officially pulled on this year’s show on Dec. 28.
It all started with 1,000 lights in 1992. This year, his home will be bathed in the glow of 120,000 lights — the most ever. About 100 inflatable figures and scenes will be in place — again, a record. Nearly two dozen sponsors have helped make it all possible this year.
The retired teacher had originally intended to take this year off to do some travelling and return for one final year in 2015.
It was to be a welcome break for the 64-year-old, who wound up with badly frostbitten fingers trying to set up during last winter’s early cold snap, and an aching back from shovelling mountains of snow.
The light-free year was also going to give him a chance to stain his home’s wood siding.
He had even posted on his property a sign letting the community know the lights would be dark this year. However, when up a ladder preparing to pull down thousands of feet of lights ahead of his staining project, a mental light bulb went off.
“It just didn’t make sense to take it all down and put it back up,” he said.
So a quick change in plans followed. The trip was put on hold and the big finale was rescheduled.
Von Hollen said he’s at peace with his decision.
“It’s been fun.”
The switch will be thrown on the von Hollens’ final merry masterpiece at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 29.
It will be lit daily until 9:30 p.m., except on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, when the lights are kept on until the last visitor leaves.
Every family that stops by will get a free photo of the house. Those dropping by are encouraged to contribute to the local food bank or bring cat food for the Rocky Organization for Animal Rescue (ROAR).
To get to the von Hollens from Red Deer, take Hwy 11 to Rocky, turn west on 52nd Avenue, turn right on 60th Street and turn right on 57th Avenue. The address is 5725 57th St. Close.