BRIGHT DISPLAY: Pat Kennedy at his Riverside Avenue home with visitors Aurora and Caitlyn O'Donoghue.
BRIGHT DISPLAY: Pat Kennedy at his Riverside Avenue home with visitors Aurora and Caitlyn O'Donoghue. Javier Encalada

80,000 lights: The true spirit of Christmas lives in Ballina

FOR the 24th year in a row, West Ballina resident Pat Kennedy has put on his Santa suit and lit up the 80,000 Christmas lights adorning his home.

Now a Northern Rivers Christmas tradition, residents from all over the Northern Rivers arrive at Mr Kennedy's home just before sunset to see the lights, which he started this year on December 1.

He also hands out lollies to kids who visit the display with their parents, and keeps the lights on until the end of the year.

It's a bitter-sweet year for the Ballina resident, as his wife Gynette has not been able to come out and participate in the display due to ill health.

"She used to always come out and sit in the chair here but she's not well," he said.

"I had her over at Lismore (Base) Hospital most of the day today for treatment."

At 8pm last night he was ready to light up the display despite having such a tiring day.

"We keep the lights on until people stop coming in, so tonight I think it will be until just after 10pm," he said.

"It gets busier after the school break up and the last week before Christmas."

Mr Kennedy said he decided to start brightening the neighbourhood's Christmas some 26 years ago.

"I lived in Armidale all my life and I never saw Christmas lights before, until we moved here," he said.

"I thought 'gee, I'd like to do that a bit!'

"I just kept going ever since.

"I have done every ornament myself, install it and organiser every single on of the 80,000 lights we have on."

POPULAR: The home at 3 Riverside Avenue in Ballina was busy with visitors yesterday even before the sunset.
POPULAR: The home at 3 Riverside Avenue in Ballina was busy with visitors yesterday even before the sunset.

Mr Kennedy said it used to be very expensive to run the Christmas display.

"It's not as bad now as it used to be when I started," he said.

"Back then I could only run up to 40,000 lights, because now they are LED and they use a lot less power."

It takes Mr Kennedy two months to set up the display every year, and another two months to take them down.



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