11 a.m., Dec. 15)
Belcourt resident keeps the lights burning bright for 17
By Fred Sherwin
many people put up a display of Christmas lights like
Gilles and Rachelle Léger.
Léger has been wowing passersby with his Christmas
light display for the past 17 years. Fred
Orléans couple annually transform their large,
sloping front lawn into something that would rival the
Griswold family and their illuminated creation from National
Lampoons classic movie, Christmas Vacation.
year is no exception as there is a strong possibility
they have outdone themselves with their current edition.
long strings of coloured lights, a one-of-a-kind painted
Nativity scene that includes roosters, countless gingerbread
men, giant ornaments, reindeer and festival ropes, the
Legers do a first class job when it comes to decorating.
always been attracted to Christmas lights, I love making
my property come to life, says Gilles Léger,
who just completed his 17th year as the architect behind
the Yuletide masterpiece.
really enjoy the thought, the work and the finished product.
Its my way of enjoying the Christmas season as well
as giving back to the Orléans community.
Halloween is over, Léger gets to work as he heads
to his garage and begins the meticulous job of deciding
what goes up and what stays.
starts by dragging the carefully selected contents out
of storage and then formulates a game plan by putting
everything in place.
check the lights to see if they are working then it takes
me about 10 hours to connect everything. From there my
goal is to be up and running for the annual Parade of
Lights, Léger explains.
years parade was held on November 26 and Léger
met his self-imposed deadline with dozens of vehicles
making a slight detour from St. Joseph Blvd. to see his
house on Belcourt.
property features three large Maple trees which Léger
magically transforms into Christmas light towers.
retired CRTC employee estimates that it takes close to
four hours to set up each tree.
the trees are done, Léger then gets to work on
mindset and focus is similar to a world class chess master
as he ponders his moves and decoration placements before
deciding on their final resting spots.
weather can sometimes be a deterrent, but after doing
it for so many years Léger knows it will all come
always works out in the end despite experiencing a few
hiccups like long periods of rain, high winds or a major
snow storm, Léger says.
Weve been lucky the last couple of years with
mild weather during November, its made my job a
youre wondering what the added cost to his energy
bill is for such an endeavour, Léger readily accepts
the additional cost and compares it to the cost of two
rounds of golf.
wife and I enjoy doing this, we know it comes at a cost
but we also get great satisfaction that our children,
grandchildren and the community enjoy it as well.
the years, hundreds if not thousands of people have made
the trip down Belcourt Boulevard to see the house
with the lights. Its almost like a pilgrimage
two houses across the street also have impressive light
displays, making it a must-see destination for Christmas
Légers have dozens of stories about people driving
by in their cars and even tour buses to take pictures
of their display.
the countdown to Christmas Day approaching theres
still plenty of time to see what the Legers have
created. Its certainly worth taking in.
lights come on at around 5 p.m. and stay lit for six hours
until 11 p.m.
But once the New Year rolls around, Léger takes
it all down and packs every-thing away until next November
when he will do it all again.
Jan. 2 arrives, I start putting everything away until
next Christmas, says Léger. I know
that weve enjoyed the lights and happy that a lot
of other people have as well.
many people dont realize is that Rachelle often
puts an equal amount of work on the interior of the house
as Gilles does on the outside.
shes had to tone things down this year due to health
issues, but shes not letting her current condition
impact her Christmas spirit.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)