9:30 p.m., Dec.22)
the (Christmas) lights fantastic in Orléans
By Fred Sherwin
The Orléans Star
east end of Ottawa is a Christmas light enthusiasts paradise.
Drive down any street in Convent Glen, Chapel Hill, Fallingbrook
or Queenswood Heights, and the night sky is aglow with
thousands of brightly coloured lights and assorted decorations.
Lane resident Peter Abercrombie dons his “light
suit” every year to welcome visitors to the
crescent famously known for its outdoor light
display.. Fred Sherwin/Photoo
a street where most of the home-owners go out of their
way to provide a good show for the people driving by,
Taffy Lane resident Peter Abercrombie has taken the art
of Christmas decorating to an entirely different level.
the hundreds of items that are on display in his front
yard are two Nutcracker soldiers measuring exactly six
feet tall (as stipulated in “Babes in Toyland”), a giant
wood cutout of Frosty the Snowman, a large cutout of the
Grinch, a flying squirrel inspired by National Lampoon’s
Christmas Vacation, assorted Disney characters and over
12,000 lights all programmed through his computer.
the holiday season Abercrombie can often be seen standing
in his driveway wearing a miniature light festooned suit
and waving at passing motorists with his Mickey Mouse
first started decorating his house after returning from
a French language course in Quebec in 1984. As part of
the training program, the students had to work on various
projects together. Their first assignment was to decorate
a house for Hallowe’en. The group ended up doing such
a great job they decided to do the same at Christmas.
When the course ended Abercrombie took some of the decorations
home and used them on his house.
years later Abercrombie’s house is arguably the most photographed
house in Orléans.
Giroux started getting into the house decorating spirit
when he was still a teenager.
father was like everybody else. He used to hang a few
strings of lights on the front garage. Then when I took
over from him I did the rest of the house and the fence,”
recalls Giroux whose two-storey home on Cholette Crescent
in Convent Glen South has attracted Christmas light enthusiasts
for more than 35 years.
Giroux home on Cholette Crescent is located
just north of St. Joseph Blvd. at the end
of St. Jean Street. File photo
he first bought the house in 1982 it was a bungalow, which
made decorating it fairly easy, but through the passage
of time he kept adding more and more lights and eventually
he renovated the place and added a second floor which
meant he could add even more decorations.
he has over 120 strings of lights containing 12,000 twinkling
bulbs, a half dozen inflatables and other assorted cutouts.
switched over to LED lights when they first came out which
reduced his hydro bill for the month of December by 30
per cent. It’s still several hundred dollars, but that’s
a small price to pay for the all the joy it brings Giroux
and his family, not to mention the hundreds of sightseers
who drive by every year.
Boulevard resident Gilles Leger got caught up in the Christmas
decoration craze when he bought his first house in Cumberland
Village. He started out like most people by hanging a
few strings of lights from his eavestrough.
the years passed by, Leger added more and more lights
along with several homemade cutouts.
the 1990s he moved to Princess Louise Drive in Fallingbrook,
where his display grew even larger and started attracting
people from across the east end. Then in 2000 he moved
to his current residence on Belcourt Blvd., just south
of St. Joseph Blvd. where his house is a ‘must see’ attraction
for area Christmas decoration enthusiasts.
remember the first year my neighbour across the street
asked me if I was going to hang any lights and I said,
‘Oh yeah, a few.’ The next day I started hanging lights
at six o’clock in the morning and worked to six o’clock
at night. Then the day after that I did the same and around
noon I saw him come out of his house with his wife and
get in the car to go out, and I said to my wife, ‘You
wait and see, he’s going to buy more lights.’ And sure
enough he came back with all these shopping bags filled
with lights and decorations. I just had to laugh,” recalls
the neighbour’s house, which sits across the street from
the Legers, is an attraction in its own right, as is the
house beside it.
why he goes through the time and expense every year, Leger
barely skips a beat.
just love it. The comments I get, you just wouldn’t believe.
A couple of years ago the door bell rang at about 10 o’clock
at night and it was a woman bringing me a gift. She wanted
to thank me for taking the time to decorate the house
and said that it reminded her of growing up in Nova Scotia.
I hear that type of thing all the time,” says Leger.
pretty much sums up the motivation of all the Christmas
light-o-logists in the east end. So if you get the chance,
pile the kids in the car, stop by Tim Horton’s for some
hot chocolate and take a tour of the amazing Christmas
light displays that can be seen right in our own backyard.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)