Switched-on Geraldton homes
What started as a friendly family rivalry for Cristy O’Brien and husband Vinnie has turned into an elaborate Christmas tradition.
For the past six years, the couple has decorated their Mount Tarcoola home with a dazzling array of Christmas lights each December.
“My parents live next door, so Vinnie and my dad were having a bit of a friendly competition,” Mrs O’Brien said.
“Over the past three years we’ve joined the houses together, but they’re still pretty competitive about who’s done what.”
Their efforts paid off last year when the two households were named joint winners of the Spirit 98.1 Best Christmas Lights Competition.
Mrs O’Brien said Vinnie, a fly-in-fly-out worker, spent up to 70 hours setting up the display each year. “He’s so dedicated that he usually gets up about 4.30am and works through until about 6pm,” she said.
She said the family made the enormous effort so they could bring joy to local children, including their own, who are aged from five to 20.
“We’ve got five kids, and they love to go out every single night and have a look,” Mrs O’Brien said. “We usually sit across the road and watch them for a couple of hours each night.
“When we’re inside we can hear kids driving past and laughing, and each year we get notes left in the mailbox to say how much they love our lights.”
Mrs O’Brien said her tip for beginners was to start small and work your way up.
“Vinnie will do a bit, and then turn them all on to see what they’re like, and then he’ll reset them or move them around if needed,” she said.
“Just take your time and enjoy them once they’re turned on.”
Entries for this year’s Best Christmas Lights Competition opened this week, with the winners to be drawn on December 21.
Winners will receive prizes from sponsors Splash Batavia Coast Pools and Spa and Midwest Solar Power. Cash prizes will also be awarded for the best nativity scene courtesy of sponsor Strathalbyn Christian College.
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