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A holiday tradition in Langton

Yvonne "Bonnie" McKillen would be proud. Very proud.

Two-time winners in Norfolk County's 'Christmas Panorama' home-decorating contest - 1st in 2016 and 3rd in 2017 - Carrie Holbrook and Tammy McKillen, and their families, are continuing a Christmas tradition that Bonnie and Jim McKillen were known for in Langton.

"We do this in her memory," said Carrie Holbrook at 1 Albert Street, Langton.

Like Bonnie (1936-2012), the Holbrooks - Carrie and Don and family, Tammy McKillen and Darrell Hazen, Jim McKillen and Wayne Parry created a Christmas display that people from all over the county travel to see.

"We don't go halfway," Carrie smiled.

"Actually most of it is hers," she added, touring of their outdoor display.

"My husband Darrell makes a lot of these," said Tammy, Carrie's sister.

Santa on his sled - led by Rudolph and his reindeer - is front and centre, but the signature piece may be the 15-foot operational ferris wheel with Santa, Frosty and friends going round and round.

"I saw it in a book and I asked Darrell if I could get it," said Tammy. "All it came with was instructions and the motor - he (Hazen) had to make the gears and everything for it. He had to cut it all out and put it all together."

"It took us quite a while," said Carrie.

"Now I want him to make me the carousel (merry-go-round) to go with it," Tammy smiled.

Merry Christmas is prominent in lights on a wooden frame, and a projector shows scenes from a cartoon in one of the windows. Tammy has similar projectors operating at her home around the corner on Queen Street and a special 'Santa Claus' mail box out front... 'stuff she hasn't transferred to Carrie's house yet.'

"It looks a lot better in the snow," said Tammy.

"Because everything glows," Carrie nodded. "Those red-and-green dots, they just glisten in the snow."

Another unique ornament, a lifesize Christmas tree of lights - red, green, yellow, blue and white - can also be seen on the front lawn,

"This was Marie's, a friend of ours who passed away," said Carrie. "They gave it to my dad, and mom and dad had that up for a few years. Now it's at my house. I love the idea behind that one too. Simple, but..."

The collection of homemade, painted wooden decorations includes three carolers, Santa's workshop and candy shop, more reindeer, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends, Garfield, and another Santa. Frosty and multiple snowmen are lit up near an extra large stocking, lit by two candles.

"This sock, Darrell and Tammy made it for mom the year she passed away," said Carrie. "She died on the 27th (of December) and we have this up for her."

The trees in the yard are all lit, including a laser light display that adds colourful 'twinkling' to a large leafless maple.

"If you're standing out there by the roadway, looking this way, it's amazing," said Carrie. "I love it."

Two garden-size Frosty the Snowmen are armed motion detectors, and belt out 'Santa Claus is coming to town' when someone passes by.

The garage is lit up, as is an entire row of candy canes along the driveway, and red-and-green laser dots 'sprinkle' the west side of the house.

"It's like our own little Panorama," said Carrie.

"Years ago, people used to drive to Simcoe to see theirs, then stop and see mom's," Tammy noted.

"Their house was always decorated," Carrie nodded. "Now, they brought them all over here."

"Do you remember at the farm we had all the barns done, the horse corral?" Tammy asked her sister. "The first year she passed away is when we did the farm that way."

"Everything," Carrie nodded.

"You could see our farm for almost a mile away," Tammy laughed.

Two years ago, the McKillen collection was transferred to the newly combined Holbrook-McKillen display at the Holbrook's.

The outdoor display, which takes about two weeks to set up, was officially lit on Nov. 25, and will continue until Dec. 31.

"I didn't think I was going to get the outside done, but pretty much..." said Carrie. "The judging is in the middle of December so I can tinker away."

Judging was actually completed in the first week of December, and winners formally announced Dec. 9.

"We just had a mom and little three-year-old who just went through the whole thing," said Carrie. "They loved it."

Inside, it's equally impressive. They have toys and action figures from the animated movie Rudolph, figurines, stuffies, snowmen, nativity scenes, several Santas and his reindeer, elves, and much more. A team of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews all pitched in to help decorate the home.

One of the red-suited Santa Clauses is a bonafide antique, over 85 years old.

"My mother saw it in Simcoe at a storefront when she was a kid, and dad got it an auction," said Carrie. "She was so excited."


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