Ken and Bonnie Fletcher have been decorating their South Surrey house with a dazzling assortment of Christmas lights for 17 years. Ten years ago they began collecting donations for Sources Community Resource Centres’ White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank, after a friend suggested they do something with their amazing display to help the community in some way.
Ken, who is 68 years old, said him and his wife chose to donate to the food bank because it’s volunteer-run and they wanted to keep the donations charitable. “We didn’t want to charge a fee,” he said.
This year the house has over 10,000 lights brightening up the night, plus blow-up figurines like Santa and his elves, Scooby-Doo, Snoopy and others. There are also sensor-activated decorations that play a song when you walk by, and Christmas melodies drifting down from the rooftop.
Ken is a construction worker not yet retired, but most of the show is put on by his wife Bonnie, who buys, collects, paints and repairs many of their decorations.
“Every year when we pull them out we just hope they still work,” Bonnie said. “And every year we say we aren’t going to buy more stuff, and then I go to the shed and we’ve got five new boxes and I think where did that come from?” she laughed.
Over the years, the couple has collected so many decorations that they have had to build new places to store them. Currently the decorations take up three sheds plus parts of areas inside the house.
The Fletchers spend all of November putting up the display, enlisting the help of their daughter and her kids – it’s an endeavour that isn’t any easier in the colder days, but the end result makes it worth it. One time, a suggestion to minimize the scale of the project was raised but promptly shot down.
“My daughter said if I made it any smaller that she wouldn’t do it anymore,” Bonnie joked while waving to a family who had just arrived to see the display. Bonnie bent down to eye-level with a young girl and offered her a candy cane from her basket. The girl looked up at her father for permission, who smiled and nodded; her face blushed into a giddy grin as she accepted the treat before dashing into the open garage lined with dozens of Christmas bears. Outside, a wooden sign pointing into the carport read, “North Pole.”
The Fletchers call their display “Rudolph & Friends” and turn on the lights at 5pm every night from Dec 1 to 31. Bonnie likes to keep track of the number of visitors, and one year she sat at the window and counted the people who stopped by. It’s usually slow to start, and the last couple weeks are the busiest.
“We went through 1,000 candy canes last year,” Bonnie said. “But we always want to do better than the year before.”
Over the decade, the Fletchers have collected approximately $20,000 for the White Rock/South Surrey food bank and have no plans on letting the counter go to rest anytime soon.
“We don’t know how long we can do this for but we’ll do it for as long as we can,” said Bonnie.