Need a bright spot this holiday? Here's a map of the best lights in eastern Ontario

·3 min read
Shawn Turcotte and his family recreated the house from the movie Home Alone to raise money for youth mental health programs at CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa. (Submitted by Jessi Sharp - image credit)
Shawn Turcotte and his family recreated the house from the movie Home Alone to raise money for youth mental health programs at CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa. (Submitted by Jessi Sharp - image credit)

Shawn Turcotte is not a last-minute holiday shopper, in fact he's been preparing all year for Christmas.

On his list — everything he needed to recreate the house Kevin McCallister defended in the holiday classic Home Alone.

His hunt took him to Toronto, where he snagged a van off Kijiji, which is similar to the one the "wet bandits" drove in the film. Cavanagh Construction painted it to match the fictional Oh-Kay plumbing and heating van for the Turcottes.

And the van isn't even the only prop vehicle in the display, the pizza delivery car is also there.

The house features Kevin's battle plan, a cardboard cut-out of Michael Jordan, 3,500 lights and a remote-controlled tarantula.

Turcotte says his family watched the film between 20 and 30 times in preparation.

Submitted by Jessi Sharp
Submitted by Jessi Sharp

This is the second year the family has gone all-out and they do it for charity.

Last year they raised nearly $50,000 for the Stittsville Food Bank, this year they picked a different organization. They'll be raising money for youth mental health services at CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa. On their lawn is a QR code that can be scanned to donate.

For Christmas 2020, 18 Cypress Gardens in Stittsville was dressed up as the house from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

"It was so fun last year, just standing out here talking and meeting with tons of people and just seeing the joy in their faces," Turcotte said.

While Turcotte's efforts benefit a charity of their choice, many in the city decorate just because they — and their neighbours — enjoy it.

Mapmaker hopes holiday drive becomes new tradition

There's a whole watt of other decorated houses in the Ottawa region and Jessi Sharp's gift to Ottawans this year is a way to find them all.

In 2020, Sharp created a Google map with houses decorated for Halloween around the city. This year, she did it again and it took off. Sharp said her map had 135,000 views.

This is her first map of Christmas lights around the city and the surrounding region.

There are houses in Kingston and Wendover pegged on the map. The site has forms for people to submit their own houses or ones they notice to the map.

The criteria to submit is "worth a drive for someone to go out and see," Sharp said.

Submitted by Jessi Sharp
Submitted by Jessi Sharp

"I definitely think it is a big success this year because people were antsy to get out.

"People got to see a lot of things that are outside of their neighborhood they wouldn't have normally seen, and maybe they'll carry that tradition from now on."

In addition to the Turcottes' house — which is on her map — and Taffy Lane in Orléans, which has several lit-up houses, Sharp recommends a house on Pinecrest Road with a yard full of handmade Grinch cutouts and a house on a back road to Smiths Falls, Ont., with a similar display.

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