Family bids to outshine light trail rivals

By Genevieve Helliwell

Christmas will be bigger and better for  members of a Mount Maunganui family who have spent a few thousand dollars on lights to complement their already large collection.
The Were family have been involved in the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Light Trail since it started nine years ago.
The collection of lights radiate a classic and traditional style which Alec Were said was imperative to keeping the lighting display "unique".
"This year we've gone way out," he said.
Investing in new lights has been bittersweet for the Weres, who lost a family member earlier this year.
"Aunty Vera" as she was known,  died four months ago and left an inheritance to the family.
Mr Were said instead of spending the money on a new TV or something similar, they would invest in some lights that would "shine bigger and brighter in remembrance of Aunty Vera".
Putting up the tens of thousands of lights at his Te Ngaio Rd home took took Mr Were and his son three days to complete.
Mr Were said it was worth the hard work and the financial cost to see the reactions of passers by.
"It gives enjoyment to the public and it's a nice way to remember her [Aunty Vera]," he said.
Mr Were is reasonably lucky with the safekeeping of his collection, with only one incident two years ago when a group of youths ripped lights off a tree.
"Sometimes people leave notes in the letterbox saying nice, warm things, and this overshadows the actions of some idiots," he said.
Spending the time and money on decorating the property this year was unclear for Mr Were until only a few months ago.
"I wasn't going to do it this year, but it's such a huge thing in my family that we couldn't not do it," he said.
The Were family have relatives in Australia and Canada.

Every year the families decorate their properties, take photos and send them to one another.
"It's kind of a competition between us all," said Mr Were.
The Were property is on the Bay of Plenty Times Christmas Light Trail.
The lights on the Mount Maunganui property are on until midnight.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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