In the gloom of a pandemic, some New Brunswickers turn Christmas lights on early

·2 min read

Some New Brunswickers are turning on their Christmas lights a little early to help lift spirits as a dreadful year draws near the end.

It looks like Christmas Eve is only hours away in some neighbourhoods on Fredericton's north side.

The summer-like temperatures this month have something to do with the early decorations, but the choice to turn them on this far from Christmas is to lift spirits as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

"This year it was a little more important to have it out and lit up a little more right away," said Nick Downie, who lives on Downing Street. "It's been a rough year."

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Downie's house is an annual favourite in the Marysville neighbourhood. With giant inflatable lawn decorations, and about 2,000 flashing lights, the house grabs a lot of jolly attention.

Downie typically decorates his house in mid-November and is usually one of the first to turn on the lights.

This year he's not alone. Downie said his neighbours have turned on their lights already this year, too.

"It is early for a lot of the houses on this street," he said.

He said he doesn't know if the pandemic had anything to do with other houses lighting up early, but he hopes it did.

"It's been really nice to see," said Downie, a school bus driver.

He said it is usually dark when he starts out in the morning "and anytime you pass houses with lights on, it's always nice to see."

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Andy McMullen's property on Gibson Street is another standout.

A large inflatable Christmas dragon is perched on the front lawn, tucked behind several large trees wrapped in lights. There is a clothesline decorated with candy canes that light up.

It's become a tradition for the McMullens to get their house decorated early before the weather turns cold. Over the years, the family has turned the lights on earlier and earlier.

But, like Downie, McMullen said it just felt right to turn the lights on this year.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

"Especially with the current state of things — hoping to bring some joy to people," said McMullen.

He said the family turned on the Christmas lights in the spring to help lift spirits when the pandemic started, so they thought it was fitting to turn them on after Remembrance Day.

"It's getting darker out so it's nice to come home and see the lights all lit up," he said. "The kids really enjoy it."