Christmas light enthusiasts Kathy and Ray Brecknell with the Santa they made using fabric and beanbags. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Christmas light enthusiasts Kathy and Ray Brecknell with the Santa they made using fabric and beanbags. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Couple’s Christmas tradition brightens up community spirit

CHRISTMAS spirit is alive and well in Bundy, as two light enthusiasts continue their longstanding tradition of putting on a spectacular display to bring joy to others.

Husband and wife Kathy and Ray Brecknell sit on fold-up chairs at their front door every night, as visitors admire their light display. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Husband and wife Kathy and Ray Brecknell sit on fold-up chairs at their front door every night, as visitors admire their light display. Picture: Rhylea Millar

It all started when Kathy Brecknell was working at a hardware store which was selling lantern lights – and what would be the very first Christmas lights purchase she ever made.

Alongside her husband Ray, the committed couple have been building their significant collection and decorating the front of their house every year for more than two decades.

“We do it because it brings so much pleasure to people and seeing the expression on their faces or hearing nice comments is always so lovely – visitors call out from their car or come to have a chat and we wish each other a Merry Christmas,” Kathy said.

“I always buy something new every year but it’s got to be something unique and different, so we can change the display every year to keep it new and exciting.”

And with more lights than they are able to count, Kathy believes their collection is finally complete, while Ray said “we’ll see.”

Kathy and Ray Brecknell's stunning Christmas light display this year. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Kathy and Ray Brecknell's stunning Christmas light display this year. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Carefully considered and placed, this year’s display includes three main areas – a Santa, nativity and Australia-themed sectionS.

Initially starting the tradition while living on Wynter St in Bundaberg’s CBD, the couple moved to the Parklands estate a few years ago, but carried their festive spirit with them, making quite the impression on their new neighbours.

Kathy and Ray Brecknell's stunning Christmas light display this year. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Kathy and Ray Brecknell's stunning Christmas light display this year. Picture: Rhylea Millar

“We moved here about five years ago and said to some of our neighbours ‘we’ve started this – the rule is you have to put some lights up next year’ and a lot of them have done a wonderful job,” Ray said.

“Seeing the whole estate would be (the ultimate goal) … we know it is an expense though so just buying one or two packs of lights and putting them up is great.

“When I was young, there was a bicycle shop in town and every year it had a merry-go-round with the old coloured party lights and I got so much enjoyment from looking at that every Christmas.”

Christmas light enthusiasts Kathy and Ray Brecknell with the Santa they made using cloth fabric and beanbags. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Christmas light enthusiasts Kathy and Ray Brecknell with the Santa they made using cloth fabric and beanbags. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Passionate about repurposing items, the couple have sourced trampoline frames from a local farm, recycled timber and even lights from an old arcade game console, giving the materials a new life.

“We live in such a throwaway society so we try to repurpose things as much as possible and rather than throwing things away, we try to fix them up,” Ray said.

“I will try to replace the bulbs but if I can’t, I cut the wire and use it to tie other lights up and Kathy has repainted pieces like the Santa stakes in the garden.”

The couple repurpose and repaint their collection of Christmas lights and decorations, to ensure items do not go to waste. Picture: Rhylea Millar
The couple repurpose and repaint their collection of Christmas lights and decorations, to ensure items do not go to waste. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Over the years, Kathy and Ray have battled the hot temperatures, summer storms and strong winds, all in the name of Christmas spirit, but said the hard work was all worth while for the happiness it brings to the community.

Estimating the cost to operate the lights to be about $40 an hour and taking at least two and a half weeks to set the display up, it’s a big commitment to make each and every year.

“It’s a reminder of what Christmas is all about – it’s not about the presents or the commercial side, it’s about being kind to one another,” Kathy said.

“We will continue doing this for as long as we can.”

Kathy and Ray Brecknell's stunning Christmas light display this year. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Kathy and Ray Brecknell's stunning Christmas light display this year. Picture: Rhylea Millar

See the special display for yourself every night before 9.30pm at 16 Southwood Court, Elliott, in the Parklands Estate.

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