If you love to drive around your neighbourhood or venture out a little further to find great Christmas lights here in Canberra, chances are you have been down to ogle the lights on Huddy St in Forde.
Driving past a house festooned with light brings smiles; having to stop and get out of the car because a house has interactive sections in its Christmas decorations brings delight. Just imagine then, walking through a street where nearly all the houses have been transformed into twinkling, glittering gingerbread houses.
“Putting up the Christmas lights started as a bit of fun,” says Andrew, a Huddy St resident. “It all started when one of the initial residents moved into the area with over 10 years’ experience putting lights on his house. As the street developed and new residents moved in, new residents have been encouraged to get involved, which was part of what brought us all together. As it has become more popular with a lot of people coming and visiting, we have tried to expand what we do.”
Andrew knows that the word ‘community’ is over-used, but he cannot think of a word that better encapsulates what the Huddy St residents have.
“It is just a great street,” he says.
The street has drinks together on the weekend in the warmer months and their annual Christmas street party is an epic event that everyone looks forward to.
The Huddy St locals also enjoy meeting and socialising with onlookers wanting some of Huddy St’s Christmas spirit.
Ironically, Andrew was determined not to buy into the whole Christmas lights thing, even though his wife had always aspired to put lights on her house as soon as she had acquired her own home. He held strong for just a year before giving up and joining in, bringing much glee to his wife and fellow neighbours.
As they prepare for December, the residents exchange a bit of friendly banter and generate some ‘gentle rivalry’ over who is going to do what with the lights and whose house will look the best.
Every year, the houses look slightly different as, between them all, the homeowners have accumulated enough decorations to change things up.
Putting up the lights, motifs and all the other decorations takes each homeowner about 30 hours all up. On a set afternoon in November, the men of Huddy St all get out on their roofs and throw the connecting strings of lights from house to house, amidst lots of shouting and laughter.
“My wife and I started fairly low tech, with lights strings we bought at Bunnings and Kmart,” says Andrew. “We have slowly ramped up. We put up motifs now and we have even gone to Sydney to look at the light shops there.”
“These groups promote the great things about the area through their Facebook pages. In turn, we now look for opportunities to use this ‘new-found fame’ to give back as a street by hosting and promoting fundraising opportunities. Last year was Alex the Pizza Guy’s first year here making pizza for a good cause.
“Alex doesn’t want his career and his life’s work to be about profit. He wants to give back to the community.”
Alex and Nic from Alex the Pizza Guy will be at Huddy Street churning out pizza each night from 20 to 24 December, donating $5 from each pizza to Kids in Care ACT. Alex and Nic hope to raise $5000 this year.
“It’s not really what we started out to do, but it’s growing that way. The community that we created in our street is expanding out into the greater Forde community. It’s a bit of osmosis.”
If you haven’t already, channel your inner child and take your nearest and dearest for a stroll through the magical world that the Huddy St residents have worked hard to create.
When: You can view the Huddy St lights every night in December from 7:30 to 11:00 pm. They start early so young families can come through before bedtime.
Where: Huddy St, Forde.