We love it when the holidays are around the corner; there are just so many odd stories to talk about! Our first Christmas story this season is here: an Australian family who put up over half a million Christmas lights in their Canberra home and set a new Guinness World Record.
This isn’t the first time father-of-three David Richards and his family have done this. In 2011 they set the record after putting up 331,038 lights. Last year a New-York family beat them with a whopping 346,283. The Richards wanted their title back so badly that this year they’ve installed 502,165 lights – that’s 31 miles of wire. They also have a glowing reindeer and loud music to boot.
Some of the Richards’ neighbours are very upset and haven’t spoken to the family since 2011. But most of them love the dazzle and come to visit from several miles away. David says, “I have always loved Christmas. Having the Christmas lights with the community coming in and sharing it is a time when you get to know people you probably should know better, I guess.”
Of course, putting up so many lights would mean a humongous electric bill. It comes up to about $2,200 a month, an amount that the local power company has been generous enough to donate. The Richards host a charity event open to the public, and the proceeds go to children’s charities that fight Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In 2011 they had 70,000 visitors and raised about $70,000. This year David wants to up the amount to $90,000. “It actually helps a lot of families who have put up with an amazing amount of grief. That makes it all worthwhile to me,” David told the Canberra Times.
David lives in the suburb of Forrest with his wife Janean, 13-year-old son Aidan and daughters Caitlin, 10, and Madelyn, 6. It took them a month to put up all the lights – they started in October and worked every weekend since. Thankfully they didn’t have to manually count all the lights. Delivery records and invoices helped with that. The lights aren’t just meant for Christmas, they’re also meant to celebrate his wife’s cousin’s wedding this Saturday.
The Richards plan to defend their record in the years to come, although they might need a generator if they have to put up more lights. Looking at pictures of their home, I’m almost ashamed of the few flimsy strings that I had planned to put up this year.