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18 December, 2020

There's snow place like home

For Andrea and Alan Attree, decorating their house with Christmas lights is more than a hobby – it’s a way bring joy to others, especially children.

By Tanya Murphy

Andrea and Alan Attree with Scarlet (10) and Flynn (4) at their home in Bayview Heights. PHOTO: Tanya Murphy

Their walk-through winter display on Wirrah Street in Bayview Heights has cost them thousands of dollars, and takes months of planning and construction every year, not to mention the effort of setting up and packing away fragile display items every evening during December, but they say the reactions from children and adults alike make it all worth it.

“We started with a couple of window silhouettes and a couple of rope lights eight years ago, and now we have thousands of dollars worth of stuff. It’s addictive,” said Ms Attree.

“But it’s addictive in a good way because we love seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces and the squeals from the kids.”

The display now receives hundreds of visitors every December, with Mr and Mrs Attree sitting in their front yard each night to welcome people to take a selfie in the reindeer-drawn sleigh while getting showered by ‘snow’ from the snow machine.

Ms Attree is also the voluntary administrator of ‘Christmas Lights Around Cairns’, a Facebook page which provides a free and non-competitive list of Christmas light displays around Cairns throughout the month of December to enable locals to do self-drive tours.

Since starting in 2011, the page now has more than 10,000 followers and Ms Attree said the number of people decorating their houses had continued to grow, with 164 houses on last year’s list.

“The numbers are down a little this year, as no doubt some people are struggling financially due to COVID-19, but we still have more than 100 streets from 20 suburbs on the list, which is an amazing effort,” said Ms Attree.

Anyone who has put up Christmas lights can nominate their address or street to be included on the list by messaging the Facebook page.

Since taking over as admin in 2013, Ms Attree has voluntarily travelled hundreds of kilometres in her car and has spent hundreds of hours documenting the displays by photographing and taking videos and uploading them to the page.

“Not everyone can make it to see the lights, for example people who are sick or elderly, stuck in hospitals and nursing homes, or shift workers, and that’s why I came up with the idea to post pictures on the page so everyone can have a chance to enjoy them,” said Ms Attree.

“It also makes it fair, so everyone who decorates their house can have their efforts appreciated, no matter how humble.

“The page slogan is ‘no display too big or too small.’ Christmas is about happiness. I don’t believe it should be a competition.”


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