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More than 200 000 lights go on display as Fish Hoek family transform their home into a Christmas beacon

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The Haines home in Fish Hoek is covered in 200 000 Christmas globes.PHOTO: emily haines
The Haines home in Fish Hoek is covered in 200 000 Christmas globes.PHOTO: emily haines

Excited giggles of young children echo into the night as a family stops to take pictures in front of a Santa lights display.

The Haines family in Fish Hoek transforms their home with Christmas lights each year, opening up their front garden for the local community to enjoy.

This year, a few surprises such as a Santa letter box have been added, to make sure all Christmas wishes do indeed reach Father Christmas.

“We had the first letters go in yesterday, a little boy who, shame it was past his bedtime so they drove here specifically tonight just to drop some letters in there.

“So, these letters will be sorted and sifted out and make their way to Father Christmas and we will see what Father Christmas can do to make some Christmas wishes come true,” said Matthew Haines.

The Haines family turned on their Christmas lights display on 1 December.PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout
On Saturday 3 December, residents could purchase pizza to enjoy while observing the Christmas lights display.PHOTO: emily haines

On Saturday 3 December, families arrived just after 19:00 to admire the lights display and enjoy the mini-festival of pizza and other goodies on sale.

Haines, who hails from California in the United States of America (USA), says it has always been a tradition in his family and the USA, to display Christmas lights.

This year around 200 000 individual Christmas light globes adorn the front of his home.

“We’ve been doing the display at this house since 2017, starting off much smaller, literally 10 or 15 strands of lights.

“And then it’s gotten a little bit out of control,” he chuckled.

“Every year it gets a little bit bigger. This year we got to just about 200 000 individual little globes.”

When it comes to the cost of keeping the lights on each night, Haines says it varies and it takes around 11 units per night.

“It varies on what the rates are and tariffs are and whatever Eskom wants to do but it is generally about R180 per night.

“Last season it took about 11 units per night and I’m sure because of how brilliant Eskom is, it’s probably going to be a little more this year.”

The Christmas lights are imported from the USA and have mostly been purchased at flea markets, he added.

“The majority of it is second hand and the reason behind that is because we like the old vintage look, versus the new LED look and it’s all from the States.

Haines explains that he specifically bought transformers for the display which cost R10 000 to build.

“We have easily spent a few thousand dollars in the past few years.”

The idea to open the garden to the community and showcase their Christmas display has been coming together for 18 years.

“I’ve done the display every year I have been with my wife for the past 18 years and before I was with her since I was a little kid but it is fairly common in the States.

“In the US it is more that you drive by, roll down your window and look.

“For the first year I did this here, the gate was shut and people were just kind of peeking overlooking and I thought, that’s not fair.

“So, I just opened the gate and people started walking through and just kept walking through and I said to myself, oops I think I have started a tradition.”

The Christmas lights display turns on every Sunday to Thursday 20:00 to 22:00 and Friday to Saturday from 20:00 to 23:00. PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout
Children are welcome to drop their letters to Santa at the Christmas letter box.PHOTO: emily haines

The display has since evolved, with a pathway created and designed to be able to walk through.

“That’s how it evolved to kind of take pictures with Santa.

“You can see how much fun everyone has and the little kids, it is just such a jol for everyone.”

The idea for the Santa letter box came from his mother-in-law and the actual letter box is a recycled antique ash basin, he adds.

“My mother-in-law was here for one of the Christmases and she said it would be such a great idea to have a letter box for the kids.

“So, we started looking for old post boxes online and my wife found it. It is actually an antique wash basin and it has a little soap tray on the side.

“We had it painted and my wife wanted it to look like a New York post box from the 1950s and 60s”

The Christmas lights display turns on every Sunday to Thursday from 20:00 to 22:00 and Friday to Saturday from 20:00 to 23:00.

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