BEAUTIFUL HOMES - Manchester families brighten the holidays with colourful displays
Christmas lights, inflated snowmen, sleighs, sparkling reindeers and dancing Santas are the centres of attraction bringing scores of people to the Fairbank community in Mandeville, Manchester.
Despite hefty electricity costs, the homes of two families have become attractions during the Yuletide season, as people gather to view and take photos of the extravagant Christmas decorations. The families told THE STAR that each year, people travel from as far as Montego Bay and Kingston to see their creations.
One of the homeowners, Marcell Fenton, said the tradition that her family has upheld for decades stems from lessons learned since childhood.
"My father always taught us what Christmas was about. Christmas is one of those times when you care, share, and you do things for people. We would pack dinners upon dinners every Christmas Day and distribute. When we came here, it was a more formal society, and one of the things my husband and I decided to do was to give back by giving all of these lights to the people and they enjoyed it so much that we have been doing it for decades now," Fenton told THE STAR.
She added that from as early as October, people reach out to say they are expecting to see the vibrant decorations during the season. Some onlookers told THE STAR that they visit the location every year.
"So even if we're thinking of not doing it, we just can't [not do it] because they love it, and we like to see people enjoying themselves, and we believe that Christmas is a time of sharing and caring," said Fenton.
"We have had choirs from church come and they sing Christmas carols right at this gate for everybody to enjoy, trips from schools, and children just spontaneously come and sing because of the joy that's in their hearts. So we see the kind of joy that is brought to all of these people, especially the children," added Fenton.
Along with her husband and brother, she said it takes up to three hours to decorate their home. The electricty costs? Fenton said that is something for which the family budgets each year. The Fentons' annual tradition inspired their neighbours, the Harrisons, who have joined the festivities for the last 13 years.
"My neighbours next door work well with us, so together we do the same turn on, turn off, and dates," said Fenton, explaining that they turn off the lights about 11 p.m.
But on the special nights like Christmas and New Year's eves, "we go to as long as the people are here, which could be almost daylight".
Dorenda and Gilbert Harrison told THE STAR that what brings them immense joy is rewatching video footage which captures the happiness of spectators, especially children.
"It's joy and affection. We do it for the kids. It's a joy to see people come out and enjoy it. It makes us feel good," said Dorenda. She reasoned that despite the "very expensive" electricity costs, it is "just two months out the year", referring to December and January.
"When the kids come ad say 'Wooah, look at Santa!' that's the reason we continue," said Gilbert.
Tedia, who visited the homes on Tuesday night with her grandmother from Kingston and another relative from the US, told THE STAR that she looks forward to visiting the homes each year with her son who is fascinated by the decorations.
Manchester native Adette Mitchell said that after hearing stories of people travelling across parishes to see the decor in her hometown, she placed the address atop her must-visit list.
Her husband, Reverend Ronald Mitchell, was busy on a video call with his son in the US, showing him the decor. Mitchell said upon seeing the decor, he was really impressed.
"Wow factor! (I see) the beauty and the creativity and the amount of work that was put into it. It's a beauty. Splendid!" said Mitchell.