Homeowners connecting through holiday lights

By: Arin Streeter

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Winnipeg, with homeowners creating dazzling displays in celebration of the holiday season.

Carol Cassell is the lead organizer of the Winnipeg Christmas Map Facebook group, which documents the many elaborate Christmas arrangements around the city.

The group has gained popularity over the last three weeks—growing from 300 members to over 16,000—and their timeline has been flooded with comments from people who said that the lights and decorations have lifted their spirits, said Cassell.

“I think it definitely shows that people need a little extra cheer this Christmas,” she said.

Sahil Sachar, a Business Administration student at Red River College, said he agrees with that belief.

“It definitely got me in more of a Christmas-y mood,” said Sachar.

Sachar said people should go to see the lights, as long as everyone stays safe and follows the COVID-19 guidelines.

“It’s a really nice thing to do, especially during COVID because everyone is just bored out of their minds,” he said.

Darlene Smith is one of the many homeowners who put up a festive display. Her lawn is decked out with over 80 decorations, including vintage blow molds, inflatables, and string lights.

Smith’s display includes 14 inflatables, 37 vintage blow molds, 30 plastic candy canes, and 25 sets of vintage string lights./ARIN STREETER

“I love how bright they are,” said Smith. “The brightness brings in feelings of joy and happiness and just lights up the road.”

While Smith had been collecting decorations for years, she decided to “go big” shortly after her mother passed away.

“It was just very hard for me because I’m the last one left in my family,” said Smith. “I just thought ‘let’s do something bright to make it bright for everybody.’”

Smith said she’s slowly grown her collection with things she finds at yard sales. But sometimes the Christmas cheer comes to her, as people leave decorations at the end of her driveway. Smith said she loves seeing the people who drive by to see the display.

“Sometimes when I’m out here you can hear kids talking, laughing, and screeching as they drive by. [The parents] will open the door, and all the kids will stick their heads, point, and laugh. It’s nice to see,” Smith said.

If you’re interested in seeing the lights for yourself, visit the Winnipeg Christmas Map on the Winnipeg Christmas Map Facebook group.