On New Year’s Day 2018, Neil Salmond shut off the massive Christmas lights display at his home on Tuxedo Drive for the last time – or so he thought.
For nearly 30 years, the Salmond family’s “Christmas House” at 4091 Tuxedo Dr. was a Saanich institution with inflatables towering more than 30 feet in the air, robotic decorations and line-ups of cars down to Quadra Street.
In 2017, after an injury that made it hard to climb the ladder, Salmond decided to create the display for one last holiday season and then it would be lights out in the new year. He sold all the decorations to Merridale Cidery in Cobble Hill and that was it – the end of an era.
However, with the ongoing pandemic, Salmond and his wife decided to deck the halls for one last hurrah to brighten people’s holiday season.
“With COVID times, people need something to look at,” he explained, adding that the display is smaller than it used to be but he hopes it will still bring joy. “We just wanted to make people smile.”
Because they’d sold all their decorations, the Salmonds scrounged for lights, bought new nutcrackers, sought out festive bears and borrowed robotic decor from Galey Farms.
There’s a Santa in a hot air balloon, robotic owls, a bear riding a bike and lights strung high in the trees with the help of a lift courtesy of United Rentals. Many of the decorations were designed by Salmond, his wife Michelle and a friend of his who worked with Disney.
The display used to draw in thousands and Salmond expects the same this year.
Every night from now until Jan. 1, those seeking a dose of holiday joy can cruise by. The lights go on at 5 p.m. and shut off around 11 p.m. Visitors are asked to practice social distancing and follow pandemic guidelines, and Salmond recommends coming by after dark because that’s when the lights really shine.