For the past several weeks, dozens of strangers have been traipsing through Leo and Karyn Cooper’s property. And it’s not hard to see why.
The Colwood residents have transformed their yard home on Girou Road into a Christmas lover’s paradise with close to 100 Christmas-themed inflatables, wooden decorations, 20 to 30 tinsel figures, and lights that can be seen from blocks away.
“It’s definitely hard to see how much there is unless you actually come,” said Karyn, an education assistant at Wishart Elementary school.
From Mickey and Minnie Mouse to Frozen characters, Star Wars and Sesame Street characters, to the classic Santa Claus and reindeer, there are a number of decorations for people of all ages to enjoy.
It’s a project that’s been a decade in the making for the Coopers. They installed their first inflatable Grinch, Santa Claus, snowman and a few lights on the lawn of their home to impress Leo’s parents who were visiting from Newfoundland and rarely saw outdoor decorations due to snow.
Then year after year, the couple slowly added more decorations – a dinosaurs here, a minion or two there. Now, 10 years later the tradition has not only continued, it’s exploded, with decorations spilling over onto their neighbour’s lawn across the street as well.
To say it’s a labour of love is an understatement. Leo usually starts putting up lights at the end of September and after Halloween goes into full decorating mode. Each holiday season, he spends hundreds of hours making sure every decoration is in the right place. The family’s hydro bill usually soars to about $600 for the month of December.
Despite the countless hours put into the display over the months, it’s the reaction from people who drive by and stop that Leo and Karyn enjoy.
“The kids really love it and they scream and run to the characters they like. But I’m surprised by the amount of adults and even teenagers who leave with a smile on their face. They always find something out there that they can relate to,” said Leo, noting they see about 30 to 40 cars a night, but that usually jumps to about 100 a night in the week leading up to Christmas. Many families come every year as well.
“That’s the goal, to spread the cheer.”
This year, the family, whose sons go to Royal Bay Secondary, is accepting non-perishable food items for the school’s 10,000 Tonight food drive, which takes place on Wednesday, Dec. 13. Monetary donations are also accepted and will be given to the South Island Foster Parent Association.
The display will be up until the first week of January, when Leo will begin the roughly tw0-month-long process of taking down and cleaning the decorations, before they are put back into storage until next year.
The lights are on Monday to Thursday until about 10:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday until about midnight. Residents are encouraged to walk around the path to see the decorations.