Christmas cheer for 20 years

    Homeowner Richard Tattersfield sets up a 3-D reindeer light-wired display at 547 Tay St, Invercargill.

    THERE are about 30,000 to 40,000 lights which illuminate the Tattersfield family home in Tay St in Invercargill, as they bring Christmas joy to their community.

    This year will be the 20th the family has decorated their home for the Professionals Real Estate Light Up Christmas competition.

    Homeowner Richard Tattersfield said it was a great milestone to reach.

    “We didn’t think 20 years ago we would still be doing it.”

    Located at 547 Tay St, Invercargill, the home was known for its 3-D light-wired reindeer display, its big outdoor Christmas tree and the projection of Santa who would usually peer through one of the house’s top windows.

    The idea to use their home as a Christmas display was influenced by their former neighbours, Linda and Dean Reid, in 2001.

    “They lived two doors down and opened their home every year with its Christmas lights as a fundraiser for Ascot Community School,” Mr Tattersfield said.

    The Reid family would invite people into their home for a gold coin donation.

    They would raise about $1000 for the school each year, he said.

    Mrs Reid gifted the Tattersfields Christmas lights and entered them in the competition in an attempt to attract more people to the neighbourhood.

    “They moved out about 10 years ago and we just carried on,” Mr Tattersfield said.

    The home will be decorated with about 30,000-40,000 light bulbs this year.

    But the number of lights changed every year depending on the chosen displays.

    The price of their power bill during the Christmas season was more affordable than people would expect, he said.

    “It’s about $60 or $70 more than our usual bill, this is because of the LED lights which are more efficient, but when we used filament bulbs it would be around about $150 to $180.”

    He had lost count of the amount of lights they accumulated over the years, but they received most of their stringed lights from good sales.

    “For the stringed lights, we are always on the lookout for 50% off deals, but with wire frames it’s a little harder.”

    With the framed displays, they would shop online or order from stores overseas as the prices were more affordable.

    “I’m not too sure how much money we have spent on replacing or fixing lights but it is all worthwhile.”

    After Mr Tattersfield broke his heel bone last year, he asked his son and son-in-law to help him with the set-up this year.

    “We do it for the joy of the children and my grandchildren, my wife was a former kindy teacher and my daughter is a kindy teacher and their classes used to come and see them.

    “Even members of the public will say it is their third generation who are now getting Christmas photos under our big Christmas tree.”

    But the joy of displaying Christmas lights did not come without sacrifice.

    Showcasing the festive lights meant most of their family holidays were spent in Invercargill during the Christmas to New Year period.

    “Sometimes you do get times where you wish you could go somewhere else but when you see a kid pop their head out down the driveway or a family enjoying the lights – it quickly goes away.”

    Setting up this year’s display was a challenge due to the bad weather and other factors.

    The laptop which would normally project the image of Santa had been updated and could no longer run the moving image.

    it to get it repaired because this is one of the things that the children get excited about and it is one of the highlights.”

    It was the ever-changing challenges year after year which Mr Tattersfield enjoyed most.

    “I enjoy figuring out how to make things better and improving things for the following years. I often watch Youtube videos to see how I can weatherproof the lights so I can do it on my own.”

    One of the new features they would display this year included a photo frame in front of the big Christmas tree.

    “We know everyone is into selfies now. So we got an old photo frame which we will put up, so people can take a photo in front of the Christmas tree and get their whole family behind the frame. It’s just things like that we’ve been trying to change.”

    As new upgrades continued to evolve throughout the years there was one display Mr Tattersfield was adamant to keep alive.

    “The oldest display we have is the wired reindeer and they are 20 years old. I’m still trying to rewire one but we’ve tried to maintain them because it is one of our original displays.”

    The community could come and enjoy carols being sung by his wife Jenny and her choir at 7.30pm on December 13, he said.