The Christchurch Christmas light show is set to open its gates to the public for the 9th year later this month.
Carl Seaward and wife Maureen, who is better known as ‘Chook’ don’t do things by halves. In fact, when it comes to Christmas they go all out covering their home in over 500,000 Christmas lights each year.
For the month of December they open their rural property on Shands Road up to the public to come and enjoy. “We couldn’t imagine our Christmas any other way,” Carl said.
The theme of the light show changes every year which is picked and designed by Chook. When Carl said anything above the eves of the roof is his domain, Chook laughed and disagreed “I have control over everywhere.”
What started as decorating the inside of the house soon outgrew the four walls and sprawled outside. They have been inviting the public to come and enjoy the festivities since 2009. Since then things have grown further and now only around 15% of their collection is on show each Christmas, so it truly is different each year.
Every December over 30,000 people visit the light show which takes nine months to plan and execute. Carl spends over 120 hours programming the 1,400 channels of lights to flash to the beat of songs.
The music they use is never Christmas carols, it’s usually of the rock variety to give the best impact with the lights and is something people have seemed to like.
“I’ve seen a lady in her 90’s dancing away to heavy rock,” Carl said.
Carl’s other reason for not using Christmas songs was “This takes nine months to plan can you imagine listening to Christmas music practically all year round.” He said.
They try and pick New Zealand musicians for the show, with a local band even shooting their music video at the lights a few years back.
The Seawards have invested over $200,000 in the display, they spend around $50,000 a year on renewing lights and decorations all whilst spending around $3000 a month on just electricity to keep the lights on.
Other costs include things like traffic management “which is costly but important to keep the kids safe out on the road.” He said.
The property is a quirky adaption of all their passions and a bit of Christchurch history from staircases out of the old QE 2 pool complex, hot-rod cars including a gothic hearse, or the massive bird aviary Carl had built quickly after they went to adopt some birds from A 86-year-old lady whose home was destroyed in the earthquake.
“We only went to get one or two birds but we ended up bringing over 30 home with us... Another one of chooks ideas,” Carl said.
The couple loves to see everyone’s faces and the enjoyment their display brings to people. “One of the best moments is seeing the blokes’ faces who have been dragged along by their girlfriends and how surprised and amazed they are.” He said.