After misbehaving guests broke displays last year, Leduc Country Lights threatened to stop putting on their annual holiday display – but now, they’re giving people another chance this holiday season.
For the Ruel family, who’s been putting on the massive light display for a dozen years, the event is a labour of love.
It’s also their way to give back to the community.
“It’s one time of the year they get together and they can have their pets, their children, their grandchildren – whatever. It’s a whole family thing,” Douglas Ruel said.
Last year, a handful of Grinches stole the family’s Christmas spirit.
“There’s only so much people can take before we’re pushed past our limits,” Neil Ruel explained at the time. “It’s even gotten to the point where we’ve seen people hanging and sitting on our decorations.”
Nearly 100 strands of light were broken and one misbehaving family had to be kicked out.
“I can never blame children because they love it so much,” Douglas said. “But parents, they’ve got to know what their children are doing.”
The Ruels talked about shutting down their annual display.
“I wanted to get people’s attention,” Douglas said. “Stay on the walkways, quit touching stuff. This is for everybody to enjoy – not just a few.”
But Douglas said he didn’t have it in his heart to keep the lights in storage when October rolled around.
He just loves seeing the smiles on children’s faces as they wander through his yard. He just hopes families can follow a few simple rules.
“Do not touch rope lights, do not play with the ornaments, do not abuse Christmas characters – and the last one is have fun. That’s the important one.”
This year, the Ruels added a hot chocolate shop, expanded Santa’s workshop and made a new lane of lit-up trees behind their house.
Leduc Country Lights kicked off for the season Thursday and will run through until New Year’s Day.
Admission is free but volunteers collect donations for the food bank each year.
In 2015, they raised $30,000 and donated 43,000 pounds of food – the biggest single donation to the Leduc & District Food Bank.
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