Mia, 7, and sister Lucy Russell, 4, spending a little time with Santa at Pat Kennedy’s house on Riverview Avenue in West Ballina.
Mia, 7, and sister Lucy Russell, 4, spending a little time with Santa at Pat Kennedy’s house on Riverview Avenue in West Ballina. Doug Eaton

Lighting the way for Santa

THERE'S people with Christmas spirit and then there's Pat Kennedy - owner of a 70,000-light Christmas display beaming from his Ballina house.

Mr Kennedy, who designed and built the elaborate display, said getting it to look dazzling was a gruelling task.

"It takes me 10-12 weeks to set up, and I can only work in the mornings at my house because when the sun comes out it gets too hot," he explained.

"I don't just hang my lights out from one wall to another; I drill holes into PVC pipes and then put the pipes up."

Having the lighting display on every night has significantly inflated Mr Kennedy's electricity bill, but it's not as blown-out as it used to be.

"The majority of my lights now are LED," Mr Kennedy said.

"I used to use all old rope lights which used 150 watts of power, now I'm using about 15-20 (watts)."

Mr Kennedy said last year Ballina Shire Council told him not to put the display up due to environmental concerns.

Ballina Mayor Philip Silver said he was "not aware that we are discouraging Christmas lights at all".

Each year Mr Kennedy hands out 3000 lollies to curious onlookers.

Santa has even been known to make regular appearances in the sleigh outside Mr Kennedy's house. The lighting display will be on from 7.30pm daily, unless it's raining heavily.

Twenty houses in Trinity Dr, Goonellabah, are also lighting-up their Christmas displays from Monday night until Christmas Eve.

Donations can be made by onlookers to the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, which receives about $10,000 each year through the event.



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