Families plug into festive extravaganza

20:00, Dec 13 2013
 Sam Ridsdale
WOW FACTOR: Sam Ridsdale, 9, wonders his way through the lights garden of Mike and Penny Owen Surrey Cres home, which gets covered with thousands of lights for Christmas each year.

There are more bulbs, baubles and Santas than you can poke a candy cane at, but it's the festive lights people love most of all.

More than 20 Manawatu families have cloaked their homes with coloured bulbs for this year's Light Up Christmas competition, with some merrymakers coming from Feilding, Bulls, Foxton and Marton.

Among them is Palmerston North couple Mike and Penny Owen, who have been hanging festive fandangles for more than 27 years.

Now they are so popular they sometimes cause traffic jams in the Surrey Cres cul de sac.

Their display includes a bubble machine, a two-metre tall ferris wheel made from toy blocks, and more than 12,000 decorative fairy lights - which is only a pinch on the 30,000 the Owens own in total.

Christmas starts in October, when the boxes of lights are dragged out and given a once-over before the mammoth effort of hanging them.

But despite a bolstered power bill, a figure the couple like to forget, it's all part of the "warm fuzzies" of Christmas. "When people come up the driveway and their faces light up and they go ‘Wow', that's what it's all about," Mr Owen said.

Organiser Dan Cunningham, from Professionals Realty, said every year thousands make an effort to see the lights. "What I enjoy the most is the pride people take in doing the lights, and most of the time they're just doing it for the enjoyment of others."

Judges will visit the lit-up houses on Monday and Tuesday night.


Manawatu Standard