by Bob Groeneveld/Special to the Langley Advance
Ron Farmer set up his first Christmas display – really “just a few strings of lights,” – at his home in Vancouver. That was in 1953.
Since then, the display has moved to his Langley home, practically next to Williams Park… and it’s a lot more than “just a few strings of lights.”
His annual Christmas display now consists of about 30,000 lights “spread out over close to half an acre, I guess.”
There are also Santas and reindeer and the rest – “about a hundred of them!”
“People say they enjoy it,” he humbly submitted.
Between Vancouver and Langley, he and his wife Gladys wowed visitors by decorating their home in Surrey, where people could see it “driving up and down from Port Mann,” said Farmer, “and people would even see it from the old Port Mann Bridge.”
He moved to Langley, in 1994, the same year that the big display at Williams Park was started.
“I talked to somebody at the park board and asked if it would be all right if I put a sign at the corner, so people could see when they’re leaving the park, and a lot of people came,” he said.
“Then, the last couple of years, they took my sign down. I don’t know why. The tour buses and everything used to come here then, too,” he added.
“When I first moved here, Save-On had a contest, and I won that,” he recounted, “and at the old house at Wallace Drive, I won a contest that Woodwards put on.”
Getting the display up and running each year is no mean feat.
“Normally I start doing the lights on the trees in October, and then into November I get the figurines and that out, and try and turn it on on the first of December,” Farmer explained.
But this time he got started a little late.
“This year the weather was so crummy, with the rain and that, so it wasn’t much fun working out there. So I was about a week late putting up,” he said.
“A lot of it is checking the lights, taking out burned-out lights and trying to find them,” he elaborated on the process.
“Some of the strings, when a light goes out, the whole string goes out. You know, some of the strings have 140 lights in them, and so you’ve got to check all those lights to find the one that’s burned out. It gets very time-consuming.”
Much of his display dates back decades – some as far back as the 1960s.
“I have lots of old decorations,” he said, “but I’m the oldest.”
He’s only half joking.
The retired Vancouver firefighter is 87 years old.
“It’s getting to be a task,” he admitted. “I don’t want to climb the ladder anymore. My daughter and son-in-law and their son, they all come out and help me now. That way I can keep it going… without breaking my neck.”
Farmer’s drive-by Christmas light show is at 23924 68th Ave. , three houses past the road to Williams Park.