On New Years Day 2018, Neil Salmond turned off the huge display of Christmas lights 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 soaring more than 30 feet in the air, robotic decorations and lines of cars up at Quadra Street.
In 2017, after an injury made it difficult for him to climb the ranks, 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 at Merridale Cidery in Cobble Hill and that was it – the end of an era.
However, with the pandemic underway, Salmond and his wife decided to decorate the halls for one last hurray to brighten up the holiday season.
“With COVID times, people need something to watch,” he explained, adding that the screen is smaller than before, but he hopes it will still bring joy. “We just wanted to make people smile.”
Because they had sold all their decorations, the Salmonds searched for lights, bought new nutcrackers, searched for festive bears, and borrowed a robotic set from Galey Farms.
There’s a Santa in a hot air balloon, robotic owls, a bear on a bike, and lights hanging high in the trees using an elevator courtesy of United Rentals. Most of the decorations were designed by Salmond, his wife Michelle and a friend of his who worked with Disney.
The display drew thousands of people and Salmond expects the same this year.
Every night from now until January 1, those looking for a dose of holiday cheer can drop by. The lights turn on at 5 p.m. and turn off around 11 p.m. Visitors are urged to practice social distancing and follow pandemic guidelines, and Salmond recommends coming after dark as that’s when the lights really shine.