A love of Lego, a desire to give back to the charity that supported their mother, and happy memories of looking at Christmas lights with their own families led sisters Simone and Melissah Dawson to start a very special Christmas tradition of their own.
Since 2015, the pair have been putting on a Christmas Lego display to raise funds for Rise Above (formally the Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group). Over the last five years, the pair has raised over $10,000, even though entry to the event is free.
As kids, Simone and Melissah’s older brother had a lot of Lego but the girls weren’t allowed to play with it much at the time. Today, their current collection, which boasts over 200 sets and over 220,000 pieces, is much (much, much) bigger than his ever was.
This year’s newest additions to the collection include the 1989 Batmobile and Batwing, but Simone said they are most excited about the new Lego Ideas Piano which plays itself.
They say the Harry Potter table is always a big hit with visitors, and it now includes Hogwarts Castle and Diagon Alley.
And while international travel is off the cards for this summer at least, you can still see the Taj Mahal, Big Ben, London Tower Bridge, Manchester stadium and the Disney Castle thanks to Simone, Melissah and a lot of bricks.
Also on display will be the Imperial Flag Ship, Pirate Cove, the Saturn V Rocket, and Apollo Lunar Lander alongside James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, the Emerald Train and the Tumbler from Batman Begins.
Some of the rarest items on show include the Modular Building sets for ‘advanced builders’.
There are also plenty of trains which are sure to be a big hit with kids, although Simone says Melissah is no longer allowed to drive the train after one too many crashes.
To keep kids both big and small entertained they also run ‘Where’s Wally?’ type hunts.
They say many visitors will go around the room several times to ensure they find the little figurines and scenarios on the list. In keeping with the festivities, they also run a ‘Find the Santas’ competition and these move around every evening.
It will be harder to miss the six-foot Lego man made by dad, Tony. He will be around on the night for visitors to take photos with – just like Santa at the mall.
What started off as a small event – they didn’t advertise for the first year – quickly grew into something much bigger. In 2016, they say, there were over 1000 people interested in attending within the first 24 hours of the Facebook event going live and there were lines of people queuing to get in.
This year, Lego prizes and gift vouchers donated by Toy World in Fyshwick and Kmart Belconnen will be raffled; the winner will be announced on Boxing Day.
The display will be held from 21 to 24 December from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm in Karrugang Cct, Ngunnawal.
In line with current health restrictions, there will be a limit to the number of people allowed in the space, socially distanced queuing will be practised, hand sanitiser will be available on entry and there’s no touching of the display.