Most of us have enjoyed the splendour of the Sarahs Crescent Christmas lights, and if you haven’t – after reading this you will! FOCUS caught up with the amazing man behind one of the biggest Christmas light displays seen in the Greater Port Macquarie area – Rod Lane.
Hi Rod. Where did your journey with Christmas lights all begin?
It all began 22 years ago, when my wife and I decided we should make the move from Sydney to the Mid North Coast to give our three year old daughter, Kiara, a better environment to grow up in. We moved into our new home in January 1995, so Xmas 1995 I decided to put a few lights up for my daughter (about 3,000 from memory) which took me a whole weekend to put up. These were purchased from Target.
After a few nights of the lights being on, I noticed a bit more traffic than usual passing our house and on several occasions I would see flashes like lightning, and when I peeped out the blinds, it was people taking pictures of our home. It wasn’t long before the neighbours were busy putting up lights and decorating their homes to get in on the festivities.
How has your display collection grown?
Over the next 10 years or so we added and grew our display, and in 2004 were given an award for the best house for Xmas lights in Australia. I must thank the businesses and community of Wauchope for their voting and support in making this possible.
What is the vibe like for you and your family?
Nowadays the street is packed both sides of the road with no parking in sight, thousands of people walking, talking, having fun and enjoying the festivities with family and loved ones, taking in the spectacle of the lights and atmosphere that has been missing in celebrating Xmas for many.
For years, Sarahs Crescent was the focus for Xmas lights, and we would have tens of thousands of visitors from all areas of the Mid North Coast and from many parts of the world visit our house and leave wonderful comments in our visitors books, e.g. breathtaking, wonderful, winter wonderland, now it feels like Xmas, thank you for making my Xmas so special, nothing in Europe like this, David Jones need to take a look at what you have done, etc.
Over the past six years or so the houses which lit up have dwindled from about 10 to two. My neighbour, Barry Pead, and I are the stalwarts, and between us I think we have the lights that are missing covered. It is sad, but the visitors still enjoy what they see and come back year after year. Christmas Eve is by far the busiest night of all; Santa pays a visit with his sack full of lollies and novelties for the kids. Lots of photos and fun for all.
I have seen some donation buckets when visiting. Whom do you donate to?
We’ve supported several charities over the years, mainly The Salvation Army and The Kids Helpline.
How long does the set up take?
When I was working full-time, I would start putting up decorations in early September, as I only had weekends to do this amongst other duties (lawn mowing, gardening, shopping, maintenance, etc). Now I am retired, it takes me 30 days.
When is the light show ready, and what times can we come and enjoy?
My display is on every night in December, 8pm ‘til 10:30pm and turns off at midnight New Year’s Eve. We sit out the front under our drive through for the month (weather permitting) and socialise with our visitors in a very happy and friendly environment. For 11 months of the year it is very quiet out our way, but come December, let the party begin.
Now, you’ve told us about the set up. What is the packing away like? You must have a pretty scheduled, regimented way of doing things?
Pack up begins New Year’s Day and usually takes 7 – 10 days.
Where do you source all your amazing displays?
Not all items in my display were purchased from shops. I actually became very creative over the years and built a 7 metre tall Xmas Tree with 2,000 LED lights, which is my pride and joy – and everyone agrees! And also, an 8 foot tall angel releasing three white doves and a couple of 8 metre long signs for the roof. Inside the home is a full size Mr and Mrs Claus in a huge Xmas room, which is filled with some exquisite and beautiful Xmas ornaments my wife, Donna, puts the finishing touches to after I have set it up. Donna is limited with what she can do, as she is in a wheelchair, so I do all the high and awkward things.
Every October I think to myself the time is getting near when I will be dragging 60,000+ lights from the shed and the task to build my masterpiece again will begin, but no matter how hard the task is, I know that when I flick that switch on December 1, all my sweat, pain and bad language will be worth it.
What would you say to anyone reading this and inspired to create their own Christmas light wonderland at home?
To any of your readers out there who have thought of doing a few lights for Xmas, go for it! The joy it brings not only to your family, but to lots of kids and people doing it tough out there is amazing. Who knows, you might just get the itch like me and next thing you know you need to build a large garden shed to house your display.
Any final words you’d like to share?
My son, Trent, who is 15 and my daughter, Kiara, are responsible for all this lights business, have given us two beautiful grandchildren: Ryan is 22 months and Rosalie is now three months, so it looks like I will be doing this for a few more years now!