Ted Aeberhardt has created Christmas light displays for more than 20 years at his home on Cadogan Street and has won the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce Christmas Spirit light contest five times

Nanaimo lights up with Christmas cheer

NANAIMO - Families spend considerable time decorating houses with light displays.

Those who’ve ever wondered what 16,300 Christmas lights on a single house looks like need only take a drive to 921 Cadogan St.

Ted Aeberhardt, homeowner, has won the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce’s annual Spirit of Christmas decorating contest several times in 22 years of building ever more elaborate displays. This year’s display includes a projector screen that covers his living room window with the Frosty the Snowman cartoon and a river with a leaping frog and sharks.

He’s calculated it costs an extra $2.50 a day in electricity to run his display. Both his father and a former neighbour on St. David Cres. inspired his love for creating displays that change every year and Aeberhardt has, in turn, inspired his daughter who lives next door and vowed to compete with her dad.

“I did it for my daughter when I was young, so I’ve created another light monster,” Aeberhardt said.

This year’s chamber light contest theme is ‘My Favourite Christmas Movie,’ but people don’t have to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for inspiration. At 650 St. George St., Casey Martin, 24, has taken up the challenge and taken over her parents’ house with a festive front yard display.

“She takes her time to plan it,” Kellie, Casey’s mother, said. “She gets a design in her head and off she goes.”

Several timers run the light show that extends to both driveways and the backyard.

“It gets more lights every year, but I don’t know, I just love the look of Christmas lights,” Casey said.

K.D. Hamilton’s home at 6552 Groveland is cloaked in Christmas with a massive display in her front yard, a village that fills her dining room, Christmas trees in den and living room – one covered in battery-powered novelty decorations – and animatronic figures throughout.

“I’d really rather have a Harley,” said Brian, her husband, who sets up their outdoor display.

“I’m really proud of my village,” K.D. Hamilton said, toggling switches that illuminate the village, spin carousels and start miniature animatronic carollers singing. Her train blows smoke as it passes though mountains and next to a pub and train station, and animatronic skaters on a pond near a fountain.

Kim Smythe, chamber of commerce CEO, said contest entries have arrived since the start of December. Chamber judges are making nighttime rounds to find which homes and businesses show the most creative Christmas cheer.

“From what I’ve seen, just in the past couple of days, driving around, people seem to be putting their imagination and effort into it,” Smythe said.

Deadline for entries to the business and residential Spirit of Christmas Decorating contests is Monday (Dec. 19). For more information or to enter, please visit http://nanaimochamber.bc.ca.

A map, including winning entries, will be published Friday, Dec. 23, in the News Bulletin.

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