Christmas lights help pay medical bills
Prebbleton display helps pay medical billsRACHEL YOUNG
A couple's iconic Christmas light show also doubles as a fundraiser for a rare disease.
Carl and Maureen Seaward have spent about $100,000 in the past five years developing the animated light show at their rural property near Prebbleton.
The display involves more than 400,000 lights and interactive decorations, all synchronised to music.
They spend about $30,000 on fixing, replacing and new lights every year.
Carl Seaward said his wife Maureen, also known as Chooka, was the brains behind the display while he provided the manual labour.
He starts building each year's display in April, spending about 1200 hours finishing it. "Because we get such as huge response from people, it keeps us challenging ourselves."
However, while it brings cheer to the about 45,000 people who visit it annually, it also acts as a fundraiser for the couple.
Maureen Seaward has Lyme disease - an extremely rare blood-borne illness. She was diagnosed with it last year, three years after being bitten by a tick while holidaying in Australia.
It costs the couple about $1000 in monthly medical expenses, which they use the Christmas display to fundraise for.
Carl Seaward said they charge everyone $5 entry into their property with all money firstly covering costs of the annual event with any left over being put toward his wife's treatment.
He said the event was something his wife, who has lost 80 per cent of her mobility, and him could do together.
The couple started the lights about five years ago after they built a showroom for all their Christmas characters and decorations. "It just snowballed from there," Carl Seaward said.
"It's a labour of love. We just spend the whole month outside speaking to people."
This year's theme involves Disney and cartoon characters.
Most people spend about half an hour going through their Shands Rd property.
Address: 650 Shands Road
Open: November 30 to December 30
Time: 8.30pm to midnight
- © Fairfax NZ News