Greymouth couple dismantle Christmas display for last time after 17 years

Greymouth couple Ann-Maree and Brett McLean's Christmas lights display
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Greymouth couple Ann-Maree and Brett McLean's Christmas lights display

A Greymouth couple who have helped spread Christmas joy for 17 years are turning out their festive lights for the last time. 

Ann-Maree and Brett McLean, who have spent thousands of dollars on their home's displays over the years, are giving up because their Christmas cheer has becomea Christmas chore.

The McLeans started their festive light collection 17 years ago when they were living on the main road in Runanga.

Greymouth couple Ann-Maree and Brett McLean are stopping their Christmas lights display after 17 years.
JOANNE CARROLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Greymouth couple Ann-Maree and Brett McLean are stopping their Christmas lights display after 17 years.

"When we first started we just had a few lights up around the ranch slider," Ann-Maree McLean said.

"We were living up on a hill so we added more to the garage and it just grew into quite a big collection. Our first grandchild was 1 and loved it, and he's now 18."

Brett McLean, who was not keen on the lights at the start, said they grew on him as the years passed. 

Greymouth couple Ann-Maree and Brett McLean's Christmas lights display
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Greymouth couple Ann-Maree and Brett McLean's Christmas lights display

"I got into the swing of things. My job was to put up all the high stuff. Ann-Maree would tell me where she wanted stuff to go. There were a few arguments, but I mostly just did what she wanted. I had a couple of near misses falling off ladders and rooves," he laughed. 

"We won the Light Up West Coast competition that many times it's not funny. We donated the prize money to the Cancer Society. Sometimes we kept a bit of it to replace broken lights."

At last count, she estimated they had spent about $25,000 on lights and an extra $60 extra on the power bill every December. 

"We loved it. It was amazing the people coming through. We never had any vandalism or trouble at all. There must have been tens of thousands of people [who had] seen it over the years. It brought a lot of joy."

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But after the 2016 display, the couple have decided to call it a day. 

"Brett had had enough. I had to push him into it for the last three years. He was sick of climbing on rooves. It's a huge job. It takes about two-and-a-half months to put them up. We started in October and after a couple of weeks I just thought we still have weeks of this and I realised I'd had enough too," she said.

However, she cannot bring herself to sell them all.

"I'll keep a few to put up, probably just around the ranch slider," she said as Brett McLean rolled his eyes. 

 - Stuff

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