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Lighting things up at Christmas

Every town seems to have one, that house that is completely decorated with lights from top to bottom for the Christmas holidays. In Conestogo, that place is John Ziegler’s Weberlyn Crescent home.It is like a scene from the holiday movie Christmas Vacation, where Chevy Chase’s character Clark Griswold attaches more lights to his house to outdo any of the neighbours.

But friendly neighbourhood competition isn’t why Ziegler, an electrician, decorates his house: he enjoys working with the Christmas lights and it has become a part of his Christmas tradition.
“I have been doing this every year for the last 14 years and I am always adding to the look every year,” he said.

Ziegler estimates that he uses some 30,000 bulbs to decorate his home. The new addition this year is a Marty fan with more than 2,000 lights, all controlled by his home computer using a Light-O-Rama program he purchased. He already has plans to make modifications to the unit and make a more advanced fan with lights next year.

Illuminating The Christmas spirit is aglow at the Ziegler homestead in Conestogo. More than 30,000 lights are used to brighten up the house over the holidays.

“It is always changing from year to year,” said Ziegler. “I have a lot of people coming around to see the place and now I have people who expect to see it and they ask me what I am doing this year and what is going to be new. It is just part of Christmas around here now, and everyone enjoys it.”

Currently he has Christmas trees out front set to flash on and off to Christmas carols that are played by a couple of well-placed speakers close to the trees and a group of wooden snowmen carolers.

Santa Claus and his reindeer can be found in the backyard along with Mrs. Claus and Santa’s workshop. A group of young carols, made of wood, are set up along the side of the house and every so often their heads move to the music playing out front.

Visitors to the home are greeted by a snowman full of lights and a flashing pillar at the end of the porch.

He has never had any neighbours object to the decorations even though there are many flashing lights, music and moving parts.

All the lights and decorations are well secured and all the cords are protected in plastic in case we should see a white Christmas this season. There will be no water getting into the wires: he makes sure everything is safe.

It takes him a couple of weeks to prepare and set up all the decorations. Using a plan and grid he sets up everything starting on the Thanksgiving weekend starting with the rope lights around the windows and the icicle lights hanging off the roof and every weekend afterwards he keeps adding more lights until he finishes and turns them on for the month of December. For the most part Ziegler works by himself to make sure every bulb is working and strung up properly.

The lights turn on at 5 p.m. every night and turn off right at 11 p.m. and the whole set up is controlled by one timer. Once Christmas is over those lights do not go on again.

“I take two weeks off at Christmas and I spend the last week taking it down, by the time Christmas is over I am tired of looking at all the lights,” he laughed. “I usually start the day before New Year’s and then I just don’t stop, I want it gone. I am not one of those guys that wait until spring to take them down.”

He stores the majority of the decorations at his shop in Elmira but a few boxes are kept in the garage, stored there for next year.

“I really like it,” said Abby, Ziegler’s 12-year-old daughter. “Except that it keeps me up at night all the flashing lights and the lights around my bedroom window.”

As for the hydro bill, Ziegler admits that it’s a bit higher this time of year but he is always prepared, the cost of a growing holiday tradition.

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