For the past decade, Pickering resident Charles Williams’ first electricity bill in the New Year hovers around $1,000.
The octogenarian doesn’t mind the power surge cost for a month.
Since 2005, the Williams family has won the Mayor’s Light Tour prize, awarded to the residence with the best Christmas light display.
The almost 90,000 light bulbs illuminate animated and still holiday icons, including snowflakes, elves, candy canes, polar bears, angels, toy soldiers and a nativity manger.
Hundreds of city residents and individuals from other parts of the Greater Toronto Area walk or drive by to see the display from 5:30 pm. to 11 p.m. daily from December 7 to January 6.
“This gives me and my family pleasure and the community likes it,” said Williams. “I like doing this at Christmas time and the cost really doesn’t matter.”
Antiguan-born Williams, 85, said Christmas has always been a special time for him and his family that includes wife, Kathleen and children, Michael and Samantha.
“Back home in the Caribbean, we used to light up our homes at this time of the year,” he said. “When I came here in 1970, our family lived in an apartment in Scarborough and the first Christmas tree we had was a silver one purchased from Honest Ed’s for 25 cents. I always told myself that when I moved into a bigger space, this is something I would like to do.”
Relocating to his current Pickering residence 36 years ago, Williams started with mini and icicle lights hanging along the roof line and on trees.
“When I decided to go on a bigger scale with all these lights around 2005, my neighbour two doors down told me I was crazy to put up all these lights and decorations,” he said. “The next thing I know he has a man-made Christmas tree in his yard and lots of lights and displays.”
At the start of November each year, Williams begins the process of creating and assembling his lights and decorations. A crane, provided free of cost by Dwight Crane Ltd., is used to assist with the installation of lights on the tall evergreen trees that reach as high as 30 feet.
“It’s a lot of work leading up to the launch in early December, but that’s fine with me,” said the retired security alarm technician. “It puts me in the Christmas spirit and our family looks forward to this every year. “
People coming by to watch the nightly display at the Williams residence at 1285 Ilona Park Dr. are encouraged to bring a donation for the Salvation Army.
“In Antigua, the Salvation Army does a lot for the needy and I love the music the band played,” said Williams. “For the last five years, we have been putting a box outside our home and asking people to donate whatever they can to this organization.”
This year’s Pickering Mayor Light Tour, open to residents 55 years and over, took place last night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.