The Joysey Lights will shine again this year – just not on Joysey Street.
Jeff MacDonald will set up his annual Christmas light show on the grounds of Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant after complaints from some of his neighbours prompted city council to recently pass a bylaw regulating “publicized displays” on residential properties.
Sure that his popular show would be deemed a public nuisance, MacDonald contemplated staging it in Ingersoll before Mayor Chris Friel suggested Glenhyrst as an outdoor venue that would open up the show to a wider audience.
“(Moving to Glenhyrst) is the best solution that we could have come to aside from me being able to continue where I was,” MacDonald said. “I obviously wish we could have worked better with the neighbours.
“I feel there’s an opportunity here to make something that’s bigger than any of us. I picture, a few years from now, this being a major tourist stop. So to be here when it starts – I was disappointed, but I’m excited now.”
The plan came together quickly, Friel said. The mayor and MacDonald met with the city’s fire prevention officer, Brantford police, as well as parking and parks and recreation department staff, at Glenhyrst Tuesday night to iron out logistics.
In past years, families parked on Joysey Street and turned on their car radios to hear Christmas carols synchronized with the light show. Because the laneways at Glenhyrst are too narrow for cars to park and still have room for emergency vehicles to pass, viewers will gather by a stage, where music will play from large speakers.
Romex Security staff will make random patrols to ensure there are no issues with traffic. Romex president Roman Kaczmarek took “about 45 seconds” to agree to provide security pro bono, Friel said.
Friel and Ward 1 Coun. Larry Kings plan to meet with residents living near Glenhyrst to inform them of the plan.
Glenhyrst will remain open during show hours, so viewers can visit the gallery during their visit.
Glenhyrst board chair Stan Gorecki thinks the show is a natural fit for the public gallery.
“The board is very excited about it,” Gorecki said.
Joysey Lights at Glenhyrst will launch at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 and run nightly until New Year’s Eve. The 20 to 30-minute shows will repeat from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There will be no shows on Christmas or Boxing Day.
MacDonald said the show will feature about 35,000 LED lights, with another 25,000 strung in trees near the stage. Moving from his house to a public garden “threw a big wrench” into the professional electrician’s plans.
“I had everything built, I had a year to plan, I knew was I was doing and had everything ready to go,” MacDonald said. “But we’ll make it work.”
MacDonald regrets the public attention generated by the neighbourhood spat on Joysey Street.
“My wife and I really tried hard to please what neighbours (had concerns),” he said. “We cherish a lot of the neighbours. We’ve had great relationships with most of them.”
Kings said moving Joysey Lights to Glenhyrst was the “perfect resolution” to a situation that needlessly got out of hand at council.
“I beg to differ that it’s a perfect resolution by all means,” MacDonald responded. “But, it’s a great resolution for the city.”
Glenhyrst will cover the hydro cost of the massive light show, with help from an anonymous donor. MacDonald said last year’s show added $7 to his hydro bill.