Each holiday season, thousands of lights make up images of snowmen, snowflakes, candy canes, Santa Claus and miniature Christmas trees surrounding Jeff MacDonald’s family home on Joysey Street in Brantford.
The famed light display – which had a modest start in 2010 with just 4,000 lights – will this year include more than 35,000 lights illuminating the MacDonald residence and surely once again draw onlookers from near and far.
We couldn’t be happier to hear that the MacDonald family is planning to again grow its annual display – which has become somewhat of a tourist draw – but it seems some Joysey Street residents have had enough. Recently, some who live near the display told city councillors they want the holiday cheer turned down a notch in 2012.
Angry neighbours painted a picture of a street under siege during the holiday season, saying the hundreds of people who pack Joysey Street each night to take in the light show block driveways, shine headlights into living rooms, take up parking spots and choke out access for emergency vehicles. The neighbours also say garbage is strewn about the street after each evening’s display.
“When you live somewhere else, you look at it and think it’s wonderful,” one resident said. “But when you live at the end of the court, it’s madness.”
“It’s a nightmare,” added another.
While we don’t live on Joysey Street, the words “madness” and “nightmare” seem a little overblown.
Neighbours concerned about the display sought help from Ward 3 city Coun. Dan McCreary, who introduced a motion at council directing staff to look at what council can do to legislate “public nuisances” including “elaborate holiday lighting displays.” Christmas lights a public nuisance? We certainly don’t see them that way.
To his credit, McCreary has said he doesn’t want to see the annual light show shut down, but better managed to make life bearable for all residents, a very reasonable position.
The issue of the Joysey Street light display has become a local hot topic in recent weeks, with some Brantford residents speaking out in support of the MacDonald family and others siding with upset neighbours. If a www.brantnews.com online reader poll is any indication, the majority want the light show to go on, with almost 90 per cent of respondents saying the City of Brantford should not take action to regulate the size of holiday light displays.
While MacDonald has declined comment since the current controversy erupted, he did discuss his display in a Brant News story published during the 2011 Christmas season.
“I think it’s important to do something in the season, especially for the kids, to make it special,” he said. “It ended up growing a lot bigger than I thought it would. Starting small didn’t end up finishing small.
“Next year will get bigger and the next year will be bigger still. We have an end vision of what we want it to look like.”
We certainly look forward to seeing the MacDonald family’s vision come to fruition in future years.
Yes, concerns about potential violations of city bylaws, access for emergency vehicles and garbage being left in the Joysey Street neighbourhood need to be looked at. But shut down the city’s best-known annual residential Christmas light display? We at Brant News say “no way.”